NYU Student in North Korea: 'I Wanted to Be Arrested'

Thought arrest could spur a 'great event'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2015 2:23 PM CDT
NYU Student in North Korea: I 'Wanted to Be Arrested'
A North Korean soldier stands on the river bank in Sinuiju, North Korea, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, Wednesday, June 12, 2013.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The 21-year-old New York University student arrested in North Korea last month says he "wanted to be arrested." Won Moon Joo was allowed to give an interview to CNN last night, and he says he purposely entered North Korea near the Great Wall of China, crossing two barbed wire fences to do so, in the hopes that "by my entrance to the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] ... some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect on the relations between the north and [South Korea]." When pressed, however, he wasn't sure what exactly that event might be, but said, "I hope that I will be able to tell the world how an ordinary college student entered the DPRK illegally but however with the generous treatment of the DPRK that I will be able to return home safely."

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Joo, 21, is a South Korean citizen and permanent US resident who, until recently, lived in New Jersey and attended NYU. He moved to Wisconsin with his family in 2001 after being born in Seoul, and has also lived in Rhode Island. He took a semester off to travel, and when he couldn't find work in California, he started making his way to North Korea, he says, noting that once he started thinking about entering the country, "I couldn't really escape it. I guess I constantly thought about it. I thought that as an American permanent resident and South Korean citizen that my entrance could have some good effect." "I'm willing to accept any punishment," he adds, though CNN notes he "didn't seem alarmed" at the potentially serious nature of that punishment. He says he has not yet spoken to any US or South Korean representatives or his family, but that he is being treated well. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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