Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tenafly Man Sought N. Korea Arrest

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tenafly Man Sought N. Korea Arrest

Article excerpt

The college student from Tenafly detained in North Korea sought to be arrested and hoped his arrest would lead to better relations between North Korea and South Korea, he said in an interview that aired Tuesday on CNN.

Speaking at a hotel room and appearing relaxed, even smiling at times, Won Moon Joo, 21, said he intended to cross into North Korea from China. To do so, he had to pass two barbed wire fences and a cross a river before he was stopped by soldiers.

Joo, a student at New York University, was vague about his motivations for entering the country.

"Once the thought of entering the DPRK seeped into my mind, I couldn't really escape it. I guess I constantly thought about it," he said, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the name North Korea gives itself.

He said he thought that his entering the country "could have some good effect."

The interview did little to answer questions that have swirled in North Jersey's Korean neighborhoods since Joo's arrest in North Korea was announced on Saturday.

"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," he said in the interview.

It isn't clear how much of his statement was voluntary or coerced, said Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a non-governmental research organization in Washington, D.C., that spotlights North Korean human rights abuses.

He noted Joo's expressions of gratitude for his "humanitarian treatment" and desire to return home as reasons for skepticism.

"Obviously, this is being used by the North Koreans, who have been under attack for their terrible human rights record," he said.

Scarlatoiu said Joo's detention is another instance of North Korea acting as an "egregious human rights violator. …

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