Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea
North Korea has detained a 24-year-old American tourist who allegedly sought asylum upon his arrival in the country on a tourist visa, according to Reuters.
The man, identified as Miller Matthew Todd, arrived in Pyongyang on April 10 when he was arrested for his “rash behavior,” reported KCNA, North Korea’s state-run news agency. He reportedly tore his tourist visa into pieces and shouted that he “came to the DPRK after choosing it as a shelter,” which is “a gross violation of [North Korea’s] legal order,” the news agency said.
Though identified as Miller Matthew Todd, it’s possible that KCNA used the Korean convention of putting the last name ahead of the first name. If that’s the case, the man’s name could be Matthew Todd Miller.
The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, so the State Department has been communicating with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, after learning that a U.S. citizen had been detained.
“We don’t have additional information to share at this time,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a regular press briefing.
Meanwhile, Korean American Kenneth Bae is still being held in North Korea for over a year now. The missionary was arrested in November of 2012, and was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on a charge of state subversion.
A 75-year-old Australian missionary, John Short, was also arrested in February for distributing bible tracts at a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang, but was freed last month. North Korea said it released Short, partly in consideration of his age after issuing a picture of a handwritten apology letter which it said was written by the Australian. Before him, U.S. citizen Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran, was detained in North Korea for 42 days last year, during which time he said he was coerced into confessing to “war crimes.” Pyongyang cited his age and a heart condition as reasons for his release.