Mentally Ill US Citizen Flees to North Korea, Requests Asylum in Venezuela

Mentally Ill US Citizen Flees to North Korea, Requests Asylum in Venezuela

The fate of a U.S. citizen who illegally crossed the Chinese border into North Korea remains in limbo as the nation lent the man its airwaves for an extensive press conference condemning the American government.

Twenty-nine-year-old Arturo Pierre Martínez has tried previously to enter North Korea, but only recently succeeded. He currently holds illegal alien status, but the government of North Korea has lent him state press outlets to use in his condemnation of his home country. In its publication of his full statement, the Korean Central News Agency–an outlet run by the communist regime–described him as “staying” in DPRK. 

The remarks denounce the United States as “a Mafia Enterprise … criminally plundering entire nations of their resources, strategic reserves and economies instead of smaller scale business and individuals.” He blames America for “the pop culturification of criminality” in Mexico, for placing “sociopathic megalomaniacs” like the Koch brothers “on the path to absolute world domination,” and using UFOs to “harass” individuals, “using seemingly otherworldly means.” Jesse Ventura, however, receives praise.

The statements go on for 4,000 words.

What the North Korean government has failed to mention in publicizing Martínez’s statements is that he is documented to be mentally ill. Speaking with CNN, his mother, Patricia Eugenia Martínez of El Paso, Texas, noted that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed in a mental health facility after his first failed attempt at entering North Korea. Noting that he “is very smart,” Martínez told CNN that he convinced a court he was mentally fit to leave the facility and almost immediately left for China.

The State Department has declined to discuss Martínez’s mental health, citing privacy concerns, but issued a statement on the matter: “We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen crossed into North Korea, and we stand ready to provide all consular assistance. The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of our top priorities.”

The government of North Korea, meanwhile, has indicated it would not reprimand Martínez for his illegal trespass, though there is no such guarantee that, following the press conference, it will not. While illegal crossing of the Chinese border is always a crime, North Korea’s borders are all currently closed, making any entry into the country illegal. North Korea closed its borders to any foreigners in late October as a response to the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. Currently, there is no public plan to return Martínez to the United States.