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NKorea detains American tourist

North Korea Parliament

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- North Korea has detained a 24-year-old American man for improper behavior while he was being processed to enter the country as a tourist, state media reported Saturday.

The official Korean Central News Agency identified the man as Miller Matthew Todd - possibly putting his surname first - and said he entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. The brief report said he chose the North "as a shelter."

It said he was detained for "gross violation" of North Korea's legal order and was being investigated. It gave no further details.

In a statement issued Friday, New Jersey-based Uri Tours said it has "been working closely and continuously with all relevant government and diplomatic entities to resolve this matter in a speedy and favorable manner."

Uri Tours identified the man as Matthew Miller.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that the U.S. is aware of the report, but she did not confirm an American was being held. She said the department is in touch with the Swedish Embassy which handles consular cases for the U.S. because Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

"There is no greater priority to us than the welfare and safety of US citizens. We don't have additional information to share at this time," Psaki said.

A large number of foreign tourists were in North Korea in mid-April to see events held for the anniversary of national founder Kim Il Sung's April 15 birthday. One of the main events, the annual Pyongyang marathon, was opened to foreign amateur runners for the first time this year and drew well over 100 tourists.

North Korea has been trying to boost tourism recently to generate income. Earlier this year, it opened a new luxury ski resort and it is planning to develop special zones for tourism, mostly from China, across the country.

But the North also continues to be highly sensitive about the activities and conduct of foreigners who are allowed in.

North Korea has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what the North has claimed were hostile acts against the state. In March, it deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country after he apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

The announcement Saturday came as President Barack Obama was visiting rival South Korea. Obama warned North Korea that it would face tougher sanctions if it follows through with threats to conduct a fourth nuclear test.

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jo April 25 2014 at 5:25 PM

WHY WOULD ANYONE TRAVEL TO ANY OF THESE COUNTRIES KNOWING WHAT IS GOING ON, unless you have a death wish... that is pure stupidity!!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
blueridgearcher jo April 25 2014 at 5:37 PM

I agree. Why in Gods green earth would anyone want to go there? Unless you are so unhappy here or just plain crazy I cannot see the logic of a visit to the cesspool of the earth. Its OK I will live very well without seeing N Korea, Iran, Cuba ect. seems to me that smart people are trying to get out of those places. If its all the same with you I will leave it to Dennis Rodman. He seems well enough equipped for that role.

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dickbambam April 25 2014 at 5:51 PM

Of all the beautiful places in the world who in their right mind would want to visit North Korea and run the risk of being locked for farting in public or some other made up offense

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3 replies
Eric April 25 2014 at 5:55 PM

What's the problem? He wanted to stay in NK and now he can. Now he can starve in the People's Paradise Utopia Dear Leader Perfect Order Place Wonderful Thingy that is NK.

But no, we'll spend millions trying to get this idiot back.

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andys64chevy April 25 2014 at 5:55 PM

Who in there right mind would want to "visit" North Korea?

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WESLEY April 25 2014 at 5:59 PM

Why would any one want to go to North Korea, North Koreans do not want to be there. Why cannot N Korea see how well S Korea is doing and want in on that.

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3 replies
andys64chevy April 25 2014 at 6:03 PM

You know if they ever come back with a new version of the Little Rascals I think Kim should try out. Who was the little kid with the beanie? Was it Porky? There is a likeness.

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amanda April 25 2014 at 6:03 PM

It just makes no since.Stop going over there.They hate us and we should not have to rescue people who take these chances.Geez how hard is it?Learn people learn..

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stegrah April 25 2014 at 6:04 PM

What an idiot........

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hhg65 April 25 2014 at 6:06 PM

How can anyone show in public with a hair-do like that? That should be a national crime in North Korea (or anywhere for that matter) and punishable by death !

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2 replies
Kim hhg65 April 25 2014 at 6:30 PM

I heard he's forcing all men into wearing this exact haircut!!

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jjkrjw hhg65 April 25 2014 at 6:37 PM

On top of that, he is fat while he starves his subjects.

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bob April 25 2014 at 6:09 PM

On his next trip Dennis Rodman wll probably marry him and the both of them can spend the rest of their miserable lives there.

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1 reply
serveyouadrink bob April 25 2014 at 6:14 PM


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