Detained NYU student wanted to be arrested in N. Korea

May 5, 2015
joo won-moon, nyu student

CNN website screen capture of Joo Won-moon. (NEWSis)

SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) — A South Korean college student detained in North Korea has claimed he entered the communist country illegally in the hopes that some “great” event could happen to improve inter-Korean ties, a news report said Tuesday.

Joo Won-moon, a 21-year-old student at New York University, has been detained by North Korea since April 22 after he illegally entered the North by crossing the Amnok River through a Chinese border city. Joo is a South Korean national with a U.S. green card.

The U.S. cable news network CNN said in its exclusive interview with Joo that the student hopes that his entrance into North Korea could serve as a chance for a “great” event to take place and to positively affect inter-Korean relations.

“I thought that some great event could happen…hopefully that event could have a good effect in the relations between North and South (Korea),” Joo said during an interview that was conducted on Monday at a hotel in Pyongyang.

Joo said that he is not aware of what great event could take place, but he wanted to tell the world that although an ordinary college student entered North Korea illegally, he hopes he will be able to return home safely after receiving “generous” treatment by the North.

“I understand my parents and my loved ones are worrying a lot about me. But I’m well. There is no need to worry because people here have treated me with the best humanitarian treatment,” Joo said.

He said he has yet to be informed of what charges he may face, but he is in “comfortable” condition in a residence with three beds and a private bathroom. But Joo does not have access to a TV or the Internet and is not able to use a phone, the report said.

When caught by North Korea, he said he wanted to be arrested, it added.

Seoul’s unification ministry on Monday called on North Korea to release the student immediately.

Lim Byeong-cheol, spokesman at the unification ministry, said that Pyongyang should guarantee Joo’s security and permit him to have access to consular services in accordance with international law and practices.

North Korea has also detained three other South Koreans, including missionary Kim Jung-wook

The other two detained South Koreans were allowed to have separate interviews with CNN on Sunday, in which they said they worked for Seoul’s spy agency. CNN said it hasn’t been able to independently verify their accounts.

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