An American Christian missionary who allegedly smuggled seven North Korean nationals into the country has been arrested in Chiang Mai in northern Thialand.
In the case alleging smuggling of North Koreans, police identified the suspect as Isaac Byungdo Lee, 41, a US national of South Korean origin and long-time resident of Thailand. According to police, Mr Lee has lived in Thailand for around 19 years. He was a shareholder of a hotel in New York and established the Samphat Jai Foundation in Chiang Mai to spread the Christian faith among locals.
Lee allegedly told police he was contacted by another US citizen to pick up seven North Koreans, six women and one man, in Ban Pa Sak of Si Chiang Mai district in June.
After picking up the Koreans, he dropped off five members of the group at a post office and the remaining two women in Chiang Mai to board a plane to the US. The five dropped in Si Chiang Mai ended up in police custody. Police believe they were hoping to be arrested and deported to South Korea.