international intrigue

North Korea May Have Detained an American Tourist Because of His Bible

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong Un’s unhappy kingdom says it’s holding a third U.S. citizen, who “perpetrated activities that violated the laws of our republic, which did not fit his stated purpose of visiting our republic as a tourist,” according to its official Korean Central News Agency. “Our related agency has detained him and is investigating him.” Identified as Jeffrey Edward Fowle, Japan’s Kyodo news agency claims the man was part of a tour but was held last month “after allegedly leaving a Bible in a hotel where he had been staying,” CNN reports.

As with most things happening in North Korea, the details of Fowle’s situation are largely unconfirmed. The U.S. State Department did say it was “aware of reports that a third U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea,” adding through a spokesperson, “There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad.”

Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae is currently serving a 15-year hard-labor sentence in the country for alleged spying, while a man named Miller Matthew Todd has been detained since early April after allegedly tearing up his tourist visa and saying he wanted to seek asylum there. With all of that in mind, the State Department continues to insist Americans not travel to North Korea at all “due to the risk of arbitrary detention or arrest.”

North Korea: American Detained for His Bible?