American Busted Trying to Swim to North Korea

Man was caught by South Korean border patrol
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2014 12:45 AM CDT
Updated Sep 17, 2014 4:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The number of Americans in North Korean custody still stands at three after what appears to have been a failed—and incredibly dangerous—attempt by a US citizen to swim across a river border between North and South Korea. Officials in the South say the man was taken into their custody after a border patrol found him lying exhausted on the shores of the Han River, AFP reports. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency says the man told officials he wanted to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Last fall, a South Korean man was shot dead by South Korean soldiers while trying to swim to the North, reports the AP.

The man, believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s, is being interrogated by "relevant South Korean officials," a defense ministry official tells CNN. In 1996, another American, 26-year-old Evan Hunziker, became the first US citizen arrested on spying charges by Pyongyang since the end of the Korean War after swimming drunk and naked to North Korea on a dare. His release was secured after three months by then-New Mexico Rep. Bill Richardson, but Hunziker committed suicide less than a month later. Over the weekend, US citizen Matthew Miller was sentenced to six years for entering North Korea illegally and "trying to commit an act of espionage." (Read more North Korea stories.)

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