An American man has been detained in North Korea, two State Department officials told CNN. Diplomatic sources speaking on condition of not being identified said the man is a Korean-American businessman. One of the sources said the businessman had a visa to enter North Korea.
The State Department is working with the Swedish Embassy in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, the officials said. The United States is urging North Korean authorities, through the Swedes, to release the man on humanitarian grounds.
Sweden represents America’s interests in North Korea because the United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations.
North Korea has detained several Americans in recent years, increasing tension levels in what is already a rocky relationship between Pyongyang and Washington.
In 2010, former President Jimmy Carter helped secure the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a U.S. citizen and Christian activist, who had been fined roughly $600,000 and sentenced to eight years of hard labor for crossing over the Chinese border into North Korea.