Dayton, Ohio, resident Jeffrey Fowle, aged 56, is reportedly being held in a North Korean prison after leaving his Bible in his Pyongyang hotel room. Japanese news reports allege that Fowle was detained after “authorities” found a Bible during a secret search of his hotel room while Fowle was not in the room, leading them to suspect Fowle of being a “Christian missionary.”
The Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s state-run news agency, said last week that Fowle had “perpetrated activities that violate the laws of our republic.” Fowle, a married father of three, was detained in May while visiting North Korea as part of a tour organized by the North Korean government. A statement issued by his lawyer said Fowle regularly sought out adventurous tourist experiences and was “traveling to North Korea as part of an organized tour” when he was arrested and spirited away by North Korean authorities.
Fowle is at least the third known American held against his will by the brutally repressive North Korean regime. Ironically, heightened awareness of tensions between the increasingly isolated North Korea regime and the outside world, as well as U.S. government warnings against traveling to North Korea, only seems to have increased interest in traveling there. A growing number of tour operators now offer organized visits to the self-described Hermit Kingdom.