The Westerners who find themselves detained in North Korea–and there have been a fair few of them in recent years–invariably end up in front of television cameras making full-throated confessions, Otto Warmbier being the latest.
North Korea has a history of using American detainees as bargaining chips with the United States, its avowed enemy. These are some of the previous cases of strange confessions by detained Americans–which have been explained after their release.
“Put some emotion into it.” Jeffrey Fowle of Ohio spent almost six months in detention in North Korea in 2014 after leaving a Bible in a bathroom stall at a seaman’s club in Chongjin, a city on the northeast coast. Before his first appearance, in front of North Korean journalists from Associated Press Television News, Fowle’s minder told him to “put some emotion into it.” He suggested that it might be good if Fowle cried.
“The words were not mine.” Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old Californian man held in 2013 after mentioning to his tour guide that he fought in the Korean War. He later said, ‘Anyone who has read the text of it or who has seen the video of me reading it knows that the words were not mine and were not delivered voluntarily. “
“Long and grueling investigation.” John Short, an Australian, was arrested in North Korea in 2014 and held for almost a month after he left pamphlets about Christianity at a Buddhist temple. After his release, Short told the Australian Associated Press that he underwent a “long and grueling investigation.” “There were two-hour sessions each morning, which were repeated again in the afternoons,” he said.
“Regrettable.” Lim Hyeon-soo, a 60-year-old Korean-Canadian pastor who confessed last year to attempting to overthrow North Korea, was forced to make the claim, his friends say.