News / Asia

N. Korea Detains Third American Tourist

VOA News
North Korea says it has detained another U.S. tourist, making him the third American held in the reclusive communist state.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) Friday said Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who entered the country legally as part of a tour group, was arrested for violating the terms of his visa and for “hostile activities” it described as “contrary to the purpose of tourism.”

The Japanese Kyoto News Agency cites diplomatic sources as saying Fowle was taken into custody after he left behind a bible in his Pyongyang hotel room.  

A State Department spokesperson has said the U.S. is aware of Fowle’s situation.

Two other Americans held by North Korea are Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae. Miller visited North Korea as a tourist and was detained there in April. He is said to have ripped-up his visa and demanded asylum.

Korean-American missionary Bae also remains in North Korean custody. He was arrested in 2012 and  sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for alleged subversion.

Some Americans have been captured and released by the North Koreans. Often they have been forced to read video-taped confessions to various charges.

Such was Merrill Newman’s experience late last year. He was an American tourist in North Korea who is also a Korean War veteran in his 80s. Newman was held for about a month and then released.

In other cases, the North Koreans have used the detention of U.S. citizens to summon former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Both presidents in separate trips traveled to the communist state to secure the release of Americans.

Some analysts have said Pyongyang may attempt to use detained American citizens to bargain with the U.S. for concessions on its nuclear and missile programs.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Dusty Van from: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
June 06, 2014 4:46 PM
They say he broke the law. What law was that? The one that says that all men have to have the same haircut as the Baby Jong? Ha! There should be an international law. That haircut is offensive by itself.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 08, 2014 12:36 PM
The bible seems so innocent -- (BUT?) -- it could also be a code book of some kind, that someone could use to send coded messages to the enemies of North Korea? -- People who "vacation" in North Korea, must be (CIA) spies, wouldn't you say?

by: Snake Plissken from: USA
June 06, 2014 4:36 PM
So they were actually religious salesmen on a business trip trying to peddle their product in North Korea ... calling them stupid would be a gross understatement.

by: Anonymous
June 06, 2014 2:35 PM
Maybe Obama could trade a couple of Gitmo prisoners for this guy.

by: Ian from: USA
June 06, 2014 2:34 PM
As terrible as it may sound, our government should require peoples who want to visit certain countries such as North Korea , and other dangerous countries to submit paper which states that they are of sound minds and to sign a waiver not to ask the US government to bail them out of jail .

by: Carl Morris from: Cody, Wy
June 06, 2014 2:09 PM
Someday... just maybe.... we'll not allow any of our citizens to go into North Korea... at all... Anybody that travels into North Korea should be told to stay there.... to NOT come back to the U.S. .. and if they're imprisoned, we don't want to know about it. Why the heck are we trying to play nice with that bunch of tin-hat dictators that run North Korea?? They are our enemy... Go ahead and try to convince me different.... Just watch us increase the aid we send to them....
In Response

by: The gods amoungst us? from: planet earth
June 07, 2014 2:53 AM
Is is amazing that the dictator of North Korea as no human rights, no intelegence, and apparently NOT even enough sense to have fear - How can he hate his own people so much that he want to make each and every one suffer - ? They need to have a Man in that position. - that country and people may have great potential, but the world sits and watches as ONE person decides to be a Evil god! and develtate the lives of many! - what a strange world we live in! God Bless

by: Thomas Futch
June 06, 2014 2:09 PM
Not everyone thinks that the bible is the trust some of us know the lies it holds and the danger the followers of it's writings are.

by: Nick
June 06, 2014 2:07 PM
So how much money will it cost the American taxpayer to rescue this bonehead? This person should now be responsible to pay the bill. What do you suppose it costs to send an American president to rescue one of these "tourists"?...Millions!

Sorry, but I have not sympathy for someone that goes to a country like this and doesn't know the consequences.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

Day in Photos

A dog, with his fur dyed green and wearing antlers made out of red fabric, poses for a photograph before participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in El Paso, Texas, United States, Nov. 26, 2015.

A dog, with his fur dyed green and wearing antlers made out of red fabric, poses for a photograph before participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in El Paso, Texas, United States, Nov. 26, 2015.