Aijalon Mahli Gomes phones home

Every now and then, an overzealous traveler crosses the border into North Korea without doing the requisite prep work and having various forms rubber stamped. When this happens, bad things follow. For Aijalon Mahli Gomez, a U.S. citizen, the crossing turned into an eight-year sentence in the company’s prison system on April 6, 2010. Yet, he was able to call home.

According to the Korea Central News Agency, North Korea’s official , um, news service:

U.S. citizen Aijalon Mahli Gomes now in prison after being tried on April 6 asked for a phone contact with his family for his health and other reasons. The relevant organ of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking his request into consideration, permitted him to do so on Friday.

Before he was allowed to make the phone call, Gomes’ contact with the outside world was limited to the Swedish embassy, which handles all diplomatic issues for westerners in North Korea.

Gomes, who is 30 years old and from Boston, has to pay a fine of approximately $700,000 on top of his hard labor sentence. He was in North Korea doing missionary work and was the fourth U.S. citizen in less than a year to get pinched for illegal entry.