A South Korean student, who moved to the United States with his family in 2001, now held in North Korea for an illegal entry on April 22 has told CNN in an interview from Pyongyang that he wanted to be arrested.
Joo Won-Moon, 21, who attends New York University and has permanent U.S. residency, said he had hoped to create an “event” that could improve relations between North and South Korea. It was unclear whether he was speaking freely or had been told by North Korean authorities what to say.
“I wanted to be arrested,” Joo told a CNN reporter, looking relaxed and even smiling as he walked into a conference room at Pyongyang’s Koryo Hotel for the interview. “I thought that by my entrance to the DPRK (North Korea), illegally I acknowledge, I thought that some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect on the relations between the North and (South Korea),” Joo said, without elaborating on the event.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said Monday it was “extremely regrettable” the North had detained Joo and called for his immediate repatriation.
CNN also interviewed on Sunday two other South Koreans being held in the North on espionage charges. Both Kim Kuk-Gi, a Christian missionary, and Choe Chun-Gil, a businessman, admitted spying for Seoul in the interviews in Pyongyang in the presence of North Korean minders. The two claimed they had not been coerced or coached on what to say. CNN noted that their accounts were “strikingly similar”.
Foreigners arrested in North Korea have previously admitted wrongdoing on camera or in writing, only to retract their statements following their return home.
[Agence France Presse]