American Detained for Attempting to Swim to North Korea

By Kevin Lynch,
International News Writer

An American citizen was arrested by South Korean soldiers for attempting to swim to North Korea on Tuesday, September 16.
South Korean soldiers discovered the American man, who is of Arab descent, late in the evening on the banks of the Han River.

South Korean authorities have yet to release the man’s name, who is in between 20 to 30 years old.

Apparently, the American man was swimming north with the Han River’s current, but decided to stop and rest along the shore.  It was at this point when South Korean Marines saw the man and arrested him.

During the man’s interrogation, he stated the following; “I was trying to go to North Korea in order to meet with supreme leader Kim Jong-un.”

However, this is not the first incident in which an American has tried to swim to North Korea. In 1996, after a drunken dare, Evan Hunziker swam across the Yalu River, the river between China and North Korea.

He was held in jail for three months for charges of espionage before past New Mexico congressman Bill Richardson traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea and secured his release.

Other noted detainments include the arrests of American citizens Jeffrey Fowle, Kenneth Bae, and Matthew Miller.

Fowle was arrested in May of this year in the northern city of Chongjin, North Korea, after he left a Bible at a sailor’s club.  Fowle placed the Bible, which contained his name, phone number, and pictures of himself, in the bottom of a trashcan, in hopes of someone reading it.

The janitor who found the Bible reported his discovery to North Korean authorities.

Kenneth Bae was arrested in 2012 for committing acts which encourage the overthrow of the North Korean government.

The government in the xenophobic state of North Korea described Kenneth Bae as a “militaristic evangelist” whose views pose a threat to the regime.  Bae is currently serving a 15-year sentence in a North Korean labor camp.

The most recent detainment is that of American Matthew Miller last Sunday, September 14.

Miller was sentenced by the North Korean Supreme Court to six years of hard labor for illegal entry into the country and an attempt to commit espionage, although he was arrested for destroying his tourist visa at immigration.

Apparently, Miller had come to North Korea claiming the country as a shelter for himself.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 23 print edition.

Contact Kevin at


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