Latest U.S. traveler to North Korea has been detained

The inevitable has happened. Robert Park, who had announced his plans to enter North Korea illegally, has been detained. The U.S. citizen crossed from China in order to bring attention to human rights abuses in the isolated nation and said before his departure that he doesn’t want the U.S. authorities to come rescue him. Park told Reuters last week that he sees this mission as his Christian duty and is carrying a letter calling for Kim Jong Il to relinquish power.

The Korea Central News Agency reports, “A U.S. citizen illegally entered the country across the North Korea-China border and has been detained. The person is currently undergoing questioning by a related agency.” No other details have been released, and nothing has been said about Park’s traveling companions.

The U.S. State Department says, “We’ve seen the reports but have no positive confirmation that he’s been detained.”

It’s not certain what will happen next. The North Korean authorities typically imprison those who enter the country illegally, though this is obviously a touchy political situation. Critics of the regime say that human rights abuses, public executions and a network of prison camps are common within its borders. Corroborating anything out of North Koreaas the State Department implies in its statement – is extremely difficult, at best.

Meanwhile, the top story on the KCNA’s website: Kim Jong Il enjoys art performance given by KPA Navy Ensemble.

[Photo by yeowatzup via Flickr]