American, Jun, released by DPRK

UPDATE 13 (2011-6-1): KCNA has posted video of Ambassador Robert King leaving the DPRK with Mr. Jun.  You can see it at the new KCNA web page in an article titled, “Delegation of U.S. State Department Leaves” (May 28, 2011).   There are also pictures here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE 12 (2011-5-27): The DPRK has announced that they released Mr. Jun.  According to KCNA:

American Young-su Jun Released

Pyongyang, May 27 (KCNA) — As already reported, American Young-su Jun has been under investigation by a relevant institution after he was arrested in Nov. 2010 on charges of anti-DPRK crime.

The investigation proved that Jun committed serious crime against the DPRK which he frankly admitted himself.

Robert King, special envoy for Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues, U.S. State Department on a visit to the DPRK, expressed regret at the incident on behalf of the U.S. government and assured that it would make all its efforts to prevent the recurrence of similar incident. Earlier, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Reverend Franklin Graham visited the DPRK and repeatedly asked it to leniently pardon him. Taking all this into account, the DPRK government decided to set him free from the humanitarian stand.

During his detention, the DPRK allowed him to make regular contacts with the consul of the Swedish embassy representing the U.S. interests in the DPRK as well as correspondence and phone call with his family. It also gave him hospital treatment for his health reason.

You can read more in the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

UPDATE 11 (2011-5-18): The Daily NK asserts that Jun has been beaten and was supporting a network of underground churches n the DPRK.

UPDATE 10 (2011-5-11): The AP (via Washington Post) reports Eddie Jun has been visited by Swedish diplomats six times since March.

The U.S. government says that an American detained by North Korea since November is being well cared for and has been permitted to speak to his family by phone.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday Swedish diplomats have visited Eddie Jun six times since March and were continuing at U.S. request to ask for regular consular access.

UPDATE 9 (2011-5-6): The Donga Ilbo offer’s more on Carter’s attempt to secure Jun’s release:

North Korea rejected former U.S. President Jimmy Carter`s request for the release of the Rev. Jun Yong-su, a Korean American who has been detained in the North for six months, in Carter`s visit to Pyongyang last month.

According to a report on the visit posted on the Internet homepage of the Carter Center, North Korea flatly rejected his call for Jun’s release.

“We submitted to North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun our strong written request to the head of state for the release of Eddie Jun (Yong-su) on humanitarian grounds,” Carter wrote. The next day, Kim Yong Nam, the North’s titular head of state, informed Carter that his request would not be honored.

The former U.S. president said, “Our next meeting with head of state Kim Yong Nam was surprisingly negative and confrontational, filled with his condemnation of historical U.S. policy toward NK with my finally interrupting him and pointing out that he was concentrating exclusively on a negative and distorted picture of the past while we had come to look to the future with hopes of reconciling differences.”

Jun’s family and relatives say they are deeply disappointed and frustrated by the result of Carter’s visit.

One of Jun’s friends said, “We heard that the Rev. Jun’s health has greatly deteriorated recently due to diabetes and went through court proceedings around April 18. Assuming that he would be released, we had an ambulance ready to take him to a hospital as soon as he arrived in South Korea.”

Jun’s wife, who had been staying in Seoul awaiting his release, recently flew to Washington to ask for a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, only to be rejected. Though the U.S. government arranged a phone call with her husband, she could hear nothing but his plea for help apparently because he was under surveillance.

His friends blasted Washington for not trying hard enough to obtain his release, compared with previous cases of American citizens detained in the North.

When two American journalists were detained in the North in 2009, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and President Barack Obama publicly urged Pyongyang to release them. They were freed after 142 days of detention when former U.S. President Bill Clinton visited the North.

UPDATE 8 (2011-4-28): Well it looks like President Carter is leaving the DPRK w/o Jun.

UPDATE 7 (2011-4-27): Jun’s family has published an open letter to the DPRK (via CNN):

An Open Letter to the DPRK from the Jun Family

To the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

We write to plead for the humanitarian release of Eddie Yong Su Jun, our loving father and husband, who has been detained by the DPRK since November 2010.

We have recently received worrisome news that he has been hospitalized, and we are grateful to the DPRK for supplying him with medical attention. However, we remain extremely concerned about his very sensitive health condition.

Though we are aware that the DPRK has a judicial system different from that of the U.S., we strongly doubt that our father’s health can withstand the stress of a trial or further detainment. Therefore, we beseech his release as an act of humanitarianism that your nation can bestow upon him and our family.

Eddie Jun is a devoted, loving husband and father, and we are very anxious to be reunited with him. We appeal to you for compassion so that our father and husband can safely return home to his family.

With Respect,
The Jun Family

UPDATE 6 (2011-4-16): President Carter will likely bring Jun home.  According to the Korea Times:

The United States government has sent medicine and checked up on the health of its citizen detained by North Korea since November, a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report said Saturday.

The report, citing sources in South Korea, said the U.S. State Department has been sending medicine to Jun Young-su, a Korean-American who has been accused of conducting illegal religious activities in the communist country.

Pyongyang views such activities as subversive measures aimed at undermining the regime.

The RFA said the delivery was made through the Swedish embassy in the North Korean capital that serves as a “protecting power” for the U.S. in the North since Washington has no formal diplomatic ties with the isolationist country.

The Swedish embassy, in addition, conducted medical checkups on Jun, who is in his 60s.

The broadcaster, meanwhile, claimed that Washington and Pyongyang have already concluded talks on releasing Jun, and that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter should be able to bring him home later in the month.

Carter, who has acted as an intermediary in the past, is expected to visit North Korea in late April.

The U.S. citizen, a preacher at a Korean church in Orange County, California, had entered the country on a business visa.

UPDATE 5 (2011-4-14): More information from the Orange County Register:

Young-Su attended Bethel Church, a Korean-American church in Irvine, until about eight years ago, church officials said. They did not remember him, but Pastor Jonathan Chang said the church’s reverend, who did remember Young-Su, had described him as “a good guy, a faithful servant.”

“My understanding is that he does not have any ties to Orange County at this time, or for the past eight years,” said Sam Kim, the executive director of the Korean Church Coalition for North Korea Freedom, which works on North Korean issues. The group is headquartered in Buena Park.

It called on North Korea to release Young-Su on humanitarian grounds. Kim said he believes Young-Su does have a medical condition that would require treatment, but he declined to speak in more detail.

“The Korean Church Coalition thanks all those who are praying for the safe return of Jun Young-Su, and pray that the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea releases Mr. Young on humanitarian grounds,” the coalition said in a prepared statement.

UPDATE 4 (2011-4-14): According to Yonhap:

The businessman in his 60s, who attends a church in Orange County, California, has traveled frequently to North Korea on a business visa, the sources said.

Members of some South Korean and Korean-American churches have been caught in China in recent years for their role in helping North Korean refugees defect to South Korea or engaging in religious activities in North Korea.

Jun’s family and members of his church were not immediately reached for comment.

UPDATE 3 (2011-4-14): Here is the story in KCNA:

U.S. citizen Jun Young Su was arrested in November 2010 and has since been investigated by a relevant organ for committing a crime against the DPRK after entering it.

He admitted his crime in the course of investigation.

The U.S. side was informed of this through a relevant channel and necessary humanitarian conveniences including consular contact are being provided to him in touch with the Swedish embassy here which looks after U.S. interests.

The relevant organ is making arrangements to indict him according to the confirmation of the charges brought against him

UPDATE 2 (2011-4-14): Evan Ramstad at the Wall Street Journal offers some more information:

North Korea on Thursday said it had detained an American citizen since November and is preparing to charge him with a crime, an announcement that came two days after U.S. and Swedish officials revealed the detention.

The North Korean announcement identified the man as Young-su Jun, but gave no further details. Some South Korean news outlets, citing anonymous sources, said the man is from Orange County, Calif., and has done business previously inside North Korea, a country that restricts most American travelers.

The announcement, made by North Korea’s state-run news agency, didn’t identify the crime but said Mr. Jun “admitted his crime in the course of the investigation.”

North Korea has detained, arrested and charged four Americans with crimes in the past two years. Former president Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea in August 2009 to secure the release of two U.S. journalists. Former president Jimmy Carter went there in August last year for the release of a U.S. human-rights worker. North Korea released the other U.S. citizen separately.

The foreign ministries in the U.S. and Sweden, which acts as the U.S. protecting agent in Pyongyang since the U.S. doesn’t have diplomatic relations with North Korea, announced the latest detention incident on Tuesday but gave no details about the person, citing privacy regulations.

UPDATE 1 (2011-4-14): Chris Green at the Daily NK reports some additional information:

It has been revealed that the American citizen in detention in North Korea is a Korean-American in his 60s who appears to have been arrested in connection with missionary activities.

Citing related sources, Yonhap News reported this morning that the man is a member of a Korean church living in Orange County, California.

The man, who reportedly does hold a North Korean visa, is said to travel regularly between North Korea and the U.S. on business, conducting missionary work at the same time.

According to one source cited by Yonhap, “We know that many Korean churches in America have been doing missionary work in North Korea. It appears that this accident happened within that process.”

ORIGINAL POST (2011-4-12): Details are still scarce, but according to CNN:

An American man has been detained in North Korea, two State Department officials told CNN.

The State Department is working with the Swedish Embassy in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, the officials said. The United States is urging North Korean authorities, through the Swedes, to release the man on humanitarian grounds.

Sweden represents America’s interests in North Korea because the United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations.

The Swedes have been granted consular access to the man and have visited him, the officials said. The Swedes are asking for regular visits, the officials said.

A Swedish official in Stockholm confirmed to CNN that the embassy in Pyongyang is working on the case.

The sources declined to provide additional information because of privacy concerns.

According to the CNN video, this American has been held since November 2010.

Several Americans have been detained in the DPRK over the years. Below are links to their stories:

Laura Ling and Euna Lee

Robert Park and Aijalon Gomes

Evan Hunziger

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