Another American possibly detained in North Korea under state’s persecution of Christians

June 6, 2014
A North Korean soldier patrols the N Korean-Chinese border at the Yalu River. (Photo credit: VOA News)
A North Korean soldier patrols the N Korean-Chinese border at the Yalu River. (Photo credit: VOA News)

Just days after I posted an urge to the US State Department to do more to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, it looks like there may now be a second American citizen slated to share in Mr. Bae’s fate.

Last night, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a state-run North Korean news outlet, announced that a second American citizen — Jeffrey Edward Fowle — has been detained in North Korea. Fowle entered North Korea on April 29 with a private tour group but was arrested from his group for “perpetrat[ing] activities that violated the laws of [North Korea’s] republic”, according to KCNA. CNN cites Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that Fowle was arrested for leaving a bible in his hotel room, citing anonymous sources. That report has not been confirmed elsewhere.

Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years hard labour after taking pictures of starving North Korean orphans — the North Korean government alleges Bae was also using his North Korean tourism company to support the country’s network of underground Christian churches and as part of an “underground railroad” to help refugees flee the country. According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, North Korea views Christianity as a “serious threat” that subverts the totalitarian regime of the government.

Bae has been languishing since November 2012 in a North Korean prison camp where he is likely suffering starvation, abuse and torture, leading to a significant deterioration in his health.

The United States has no direct diplomatic relations with North Korea, instead depending upon the Swedish Embassy to negotiate for human rights on the behalf of American citizens like Bae. The Swedish ambassador has twice been turned away by North Korea when he attempted to visit to discuss Bae’s condition, and the United States federal government has failed to do much more.

A third American citizen is also currently being held in North Korea. Miller Matthew Todd was taken into custody on April 10th upon entering North Korea as a tourist, when he ripped up his tourist visa at the border and demanded asylum. Todd is currently under investigation.

Did you like this content? Please consider becoming a patron of Reappropriate and get exclusive access to the brand new Reappropriate vlog!

Comment Policy

Before posting, please review the following guidelines:

  • No ad hominem attacks: A person's identity, personal history, or background is not up for debate. Talk about ideas, not people.
  • Be courteous: Respect everyone else in this space.
  • Present evidence: This space endeavours to encourage academic and rational debate around identity politics. Do your best to build an argument backed not just with your own ideas, but also with science.
  • Don't be pedantic: Listen to those debating you not just for places to attack, but also where you might learn and even change your own opinion. Repeatedly arguing the same point irrespective of presented counterfacts will now be considered a violation of this site's comment policy.
  • Respect the humanity of all groups: To elevate the quality of debate, this site will no longer tolerate (racial, cultural, gender, etc.) supremacist or inferiority lines of argumentation. There are other places on the internet where nationalist arguments can be expressed; this blog is not those places.
  • Don't be an asshole: If you think your behaviour would get you punched in the face outside of the internets, don't say it on the internets.
  • Don't abuse Disqus features: Don't upvote your own comments. Don't flag other people's comments without reasonable cause. Basically, don't try to game the system. You are not being slick.

Is your comment not approved, unpublished, or deleted? Here are some common reasons why:

  • Did you sign in? You are required to register an account with Disqus or one of your social media accounts in order to comment.
  • Did your comment get caught in the spam filter? Disqus is set to automatically detect and filter out spam comments. Sometimes, its algorithm gets over-zealous, particularly if you post multiple comments in rapid succession, if your comment contains keywords often associated with spam, and/or if your comment contains multiple links. If your comment has been erroneously caught in the spam filter, contact me and I will retrieve it.
  • Did a comment get flagged? Comments will be default be published but flagged comments will be temporarily removed from view until they are reviewed by me.
  • Did you not play nice? You may have gotten banned and a bunch of your comments may have been therefore deleted. Sorry.

I monitor all comment threads, and try to address comments requiring moderation within 24-48 hours. Comments that violate this comment policy may receive a warning and removal of offensive content; overt or repeat violations are subject to deletion and/or banning of comment authors without warning.

I reserve final decision over how this comment policy will be enforced.

Summary:

Play nice and don't be a jerk, and you'll do just fine.