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North Korea preparing to try two American tourists for 'hostile acts' against the country

Why Do American Tourists Go To North Korea?


BY ERIC TALMADGE
ASSOCIATED PRESS

TOKYO (AP) -- North Korea said Monday it is preparing to try two Americans who entered the country as tourists for carrying out what it says were hostile acts against the country. Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it.

Investigations into Americans Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle concluded that suspicions about their hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their testimonies, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said in a short report.

KCNA said North Korea is making preparations to bring them before a court. It did not specify what the two did that was considered hostile or illegal, or what kind of punishment they might face. It also did not say when the trial would begin.

Fowle arrived in the county on April 29. North Korea's state media said in June that authorities were investigating him for committing acts inconsistent with the purpose of a tourist visit.

Diplomatic sources said Fowle was detained for leaving the Bible in his hotel room. But a spokesman for Fowle's family said the 56-year-old from Ohio was not on a mission for his church. His wife and three children said they miss him very much and "are anxious for his return home," according to a statement after his detention that was provided by a spokesman for the family.

KCNA said Miller, 24, entered the country April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. A large number of Western tourists visited Pyongyang in April to run in the annual Pyongyang Marathon or attend related events. Miller came at that time, but tour organizers say he was not planning to join the marathon.

North Korea has also been separately holding Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae since November 2012. He was convicted by a North Korean court and is serving 15 years of hard labor, also for what the North says were hostile acts against the state.

The latest arrests present a conundrum for Washington, which has no diplomatic ties with the North and no embassy in Pyongyang.

Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs in the North. State Department officials say they cannot release details about the cases because they need a privacy waiver to do so.

Pyongyang has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. The tourism push has been directed at Chinese, who by far are the most common visitors to the North, but the still small number of Western tourists to North Korea has been growing.

Despite its efforts to bring in more tourists, the North remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

After Miller's detention, Washington updated its travel warning to the North to note that over the past 18 months, "North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours. Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities."

It added that efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not succeeded in gaining their release.

The Korean Peninsula is still in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.

AP writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report from Seoul. Talmadge is the AP's Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/EricTalmadge.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Dennis June 30 2014 at 4:33 AM

We should not spend any rescources on getting these "tourists" released when they have been warned time and again NOT to visit this very hostile country. There is just NO valid reason to visit this place!

Flag Reply +97 rate up
10 replies
ERIC June 30 2014 at 4:22 AM

Any American who chooses to visit N Korea needs serious mental help. These U.S. tourists will probably end up dead, unfortunately.

Flag Reply +71 rate up
7 replies
vampyreangelus June 30 2014 at 4:34 AM

No one in their right mind would go to north korea or any muslim country.

Flag Reply +69 rate up
8 replies
aajarm June 30 2014 at 4:23 AM

Another cancer with a cure. This fool, along with Islam should be cleansed from the world. BOTH ARE CANCERS WITH A CURE!!! Islam is not a religion, it is a cult.

Flag Reply +55 rate up
19 replies
nnjtickler June 30 2014 at 4:46 AM

when is someone going to assassinate this guy. and why are americans going there ....these 2 americans are idiots

Flag Reply +45 rate up
4 replies
shbhar June 30 2014 at 5:19 AM

Are these two people insane, must be for going to a country like that. I guess America is to easy going for them.i hope that's the adventure they looking for.

Flag Reply +36 rate up
1 reply
pboucard50 shbhar June 30 2014 at 6:58 AM

Yes they are insane ! Did you miss the part of leaving a bible for someone who doesn't want the crap.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
Sandra pboucard50 June 30 2014 at 9:42 AM

awwwe - poor wittle north koreans .... ever hear of a trash can, idiot?? These "tourists" or anyone with half a brain should not be anywhere near that repulsive country - disgusting inbred, uneducated losers ... like you :)

Flag +2 rate up
Tom pboucard50 June 30 2014 at 9:44 AM

Your comment would make you a perfect candidate for citizenship in N.K.

Flag +2 rate up
Randy June 30 2014 at 7:39 AM

Can't you just picture the kitchen table conversation - Lets go to North Korea and take in the sights? Any one ignorant enough to go to a hell hole gets what ever punishment the wacked out fools running the punk country.

Flag Reply +27 rate up
2 replies
Kurtcobainskyblueyes Randy June 30 2014 at 8:04 AM

So ridiculous to think the N. Korean "police" are not watching every move anyone of them were making and waiting to pounce!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
John Randy June 30 2014 at 12:59 PM

Seems that they are finding out not all countries treat stupid as a medical problem like the U.S. does.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
libsfault June 30 2014 at 5:20 AM

WTF.........tourist???.....they deserve everything they get if that's a fact.

Flag Reply +24 rate up
2 replies
gramos555 libsfault June 30 2014 at 5:39 AM

Well, no they don't. North Korea owes it to the rest of the world to be more open and to honor peoples' civil right.

But these 'christians' can only blame themselves for being in this predicament.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
3 replies
JUST A DUDE libsfault June 30 2014 at 8:40 AM

They will learn their so-called "entitlement" doesn't work outside the U.S. A. Three tourist in Costa Rica were so rude to the indigenous, sat up a small Confederate flag on the table and called out to a waitress, "C' mere "N"! I could not contain myself but was saved from arrest by other Americans at the outside cafe'. I hoped his eye was swollen shut the following day.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
kcarthey JUST A DUDE June 30 2014 at 11:17 AM

I've not seen that but a friend of mine was waitressing in a bar in Costa Rica and some Southerners asked where she was from. She responded "Hawaii" and the woman drawled out, "Oh, honey, but your English is so good". In your case I would have burned their damn flag.

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esaustew June 30 2014 at 4:33 AM

I hope he get's whacked, and soon. Every time I see his picture, I imagine a tiny little hole with red drizzle oozing out.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
3 replies
JERRY June 30 2014 at 4:34 AM

Send a sniper over!

Flag Reply +14 rate up
3 replies
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