Seoul, South Korea – The U.S.-led United Nations Command is making an attempt to safe the discharge of an unidentified American soldier who entered North Korea from the South Korean facet of a border village.
It’s not instantly clear what motivated the soldier to cross into North Korea throughout a time of excessive tensions because the tempo of each the North’s weapons demonstrations and U.S.-South Korean joint army coaching have intensified in a cycle of tit-for-tat.
There have been circumstances of Americans crossing into North Korea over the previous years, together with a small variety of U.S. troopers. Some of the Americans who crossed have been pushed by evangelical zeal or just attracted by the thriller of a severely cloistered police state fueled by anti-U.S. hatred.
Other Americans have been detained after getting into North Korea as vacationers. In one tragic case, it led to loss of life.
Here’s a have a look at Americans who entered North Korea previously years:
Born in Rich Square, North Carolina, Charles Jenkins was one of many few Cold War-era U.S. troopers who fled to North Korea whereas serving within the South.
Jenkins, then an Army sergeant, abandoned his publish in 1965 and fled throughout the Demilitarized Zone separating the 2 Koreas. North Korea handled Jenkins as a propaganda asset, showcasing him in leaflets and movies.
FILE – Former U.S. Army deserter to North Korea, Charles Jenkins, is seen along with his daughters Mika, rear left, and Brinda at Narita International Airport, Japan, June 14, 2005.
In 1980, Jenkins married 21-year-old Hitomi Soga, a Japanese nursing scholar who had been kidnapped by North Korean brokers in 1978.
Soga was allowed to return to Japan in 2002. In 2004, Jenkins was allowed to depart North Korea and rejoin his spouse in Japan, the place he surrendered to U.S. army authorities and confronted fees that he deserted his unit and defected to North Korea. He was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 25 days in a U.S. army jail in Japan. He died in Japan in 2017.
In September 2014, then a 24-year-old from Bakersfield, California, Matthew Miller was sentenced to 6 years of arduous labor by North Korea’s Supreme Court on fees that he illegally entered the nation for spying functions.
FILE – Matthew Miller, a U.S. citizen, sits on the dock on the Supreme Court throughout his trial in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sept. 14, 2014.
The court docket claimed that Miller tore up his vacationer visa upon arriving at Pyongyang’s airport in April that yr and admitted to a ‘wild ambition’ of experiencing North Korean jail life in order that he might secretly examine the nation’s human rights circumstances.
North Korea’s preliminary announcement about Miller’s detainment that month got here as then-President Barack Obama was touring in South Korea on a state go to.
Miller was freed in November that very same yr together with one other American, Kenneth Bae, a missionary and tour chief.
Weeks earlier than his launch, Miller talked with The Associated Press at a Pyongyang lodge the place North Korean officers allowed him to name his household. Miller stated he was digging in fields eight hours a day and being saved in isolation.
Bae, a Korean-American missionary from Lynnwood, Washington, was arrested in November 2012 whereas main a tour group in a particular North Korean financial zone.
North Korea sentenced Bae to fifteen years in jail for ‘hostile acts,’ together with smuggling in inflammatory literature and making an attempt to determine a base for anti-government actions at a lodge in a border city. Bae’s household stated he suffered from persistent well being points, together with again ache, diabetes, and coronary heart and liver issues.
FILE – American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.
Bae returned to the United States in November 2014 following a secret mission by James Clapper, then-U.S. director of nationwide intelligence who additionally secured Miller’s launch.
A month earlier than Bae and Miller’s launch, North Korea additionally freed Jeffrey Fowle, an Ohio municipal employee who was detained for six months for leaving a Bible in a nightclub within the metropolis of Chongjin. Fowle’s launch adopted negotiations that concerned retired diplomat and former Ohio Congressman Tony Hall.
While North Korea formally ensures freedom of faith, analysts and defectors describe the nation as strictly anti-religious. The distribution of Bibles and secret prayer companies can imply imprisonment or execution, defectors say.
In 2009, American missionary Robert Park walked into North Korea with a Bible in his hand to attract consideration to North Korea’s human rights abuses. Park, who was deported from the North in February 2010, has stated he was tortured by authorities.
Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia scholar, died in June 2017, shortly after he was flown house in a vegetative state after 17 months in North Korean captivity.
FILE – American scholar Otto Warmbier is escorted on the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, March 16, 2016.
Warmbier was seized by North Korean authorities from a tour group in January 2016 and convicted on fees of making an attempt to steal a propaganda poster and sentenced to fifteen years of arduous labor.
While not offering a transparent cause for Warmbier’s mind injury, North Korea denied accusations by Warmbier’s household that he was tortured and maintained that it had offered him medical care with ‘all sincerity.’ The North accused the United States of a smear marketing campaign and claimed itself because the ‘greatest sufferer’ in his loss of life.
In 2022, a U.S. federal choose in New York dominated that Warmbier’s mother and father – Fred and Cindy Warmbier – ought to obtain $240,300 seized from a North Korean checking account, which might be a partial fee towards the greater than $501 million they have been awarded in 2018 by a federal choose in Washington.