Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported that a young American man was apprehended by Marine guards several hours ago as he tried to swim across the Han River into North Korea.
According to government sources, the man, in his late 20s or early 30s, was arrested at around 11:55 PM on Tuesday while he swimming across the Han River, which borders with North Korea.
The man is described as being “a U.S. citizen of Arabic descent.” Asked why he was trying to cross the border, he replied that he was trying to get into North Korea to meet with supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
Some have suggested that the man may have been encouraged by the recent visits of former basketball star Dennis Rodman, the self-proclaimed ambassador of peace between the United States and North Korea, or the story of the 24-year-old Matthew Miller, who was sentenced recently to six years of hard labor for having ripped up his tourist visa and requesting political asylum after landing in Pyongyang.
While escapes to South Korea from the north are fairly frequent, crossings in the opposite direction are far rarer. Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, About 27,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea to avoid poverty and political oppression.