North Korea Detains American Matthew Todd For 'Rash Behavior' On The Border, Whatever That Means
North Korea said Friday that it has detained a 24-year-old American man for "rash behavior" he exhibited while passing through customs into the country on April 10. The reclusive nation said it had detained Miller Matthew Todd, whose name may have been rendered in the Korean style of putting the surname first (it's likely Matthew Todd Miller). North Korea is still detaining Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen from South Korea who was arrested in June 2012 and is serving a 15-year prison sentence for supposedly planning to overthrow the North Korean government using religion.
North Korea says Miller entered the country as a tourist and tore up his visa at customs, declaring that he was choosing North Korea as a shelter. The New York Times speculated that the timing of North Korea's announcement was possibly intended to coincide with a visit by President Obama to South Korea.
The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and Obama kicked off Friday morning by telling South Koreans that North Korea's threats would get the country nowhere with the U.S. and suggesting it would impose more sanctions on the country. A spokeswoman for the State Department told the Times that the U.S. had reached out to Sweden's embassy in North Korea. Sweden represents U.S. interests in the country, she said.
If Bae's experience is any example, Miller has a lot to fear from being in North Korean custody. The 45-year-old Korean-American man was convicted of "hostile acts" against the country in June 2013. He is suspected of doing missionary work there. In February, North Korea cancelled a planned visit by Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights, who was scheduled to discuss Bae's plight with the country and potentially negotiate his release. The country rescinded its invitation without giving an explanation.
An octogenarian tourist, Merrill Newman, was detained for about a month last year for "war crimes" committed during the Korean War about 60 years earlier. Newman was released after reading an "apology" filmed by a North Korean news crew.