South Korean authorities have arrested an American man who was trying to swim to North Korea, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.
The unnamed man was spotted lying on the bank of the Han river that borders the two countries, apparently suffering from exhaustion.
The US citizen, believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s, reportedly told interrogators that he “was trying to go to North Korea in order to meet with supreme leader Kim Jong-un.”
The South Korean defence ministry did not immediately verify the details of the report but an official has confirmed that a US national was stopped by the military late on September 16.
The US embassy in Seoul said it had been in contact with the South Korean authorities about the report. Embassy spokesperson Nida Emmons said: “We do not have any additional information to share at this time. We have been in touch with the appropriate South Korean authorities regarding the reports.”
In September 2013 a South Korean man was shot dead by South Korean soldiers as he seemingly tried to enter the North by swimming across the river border.
This latest incident comes just days after American Matthew Miller was sentenced to 6 years hard labour in North Korea for ‘hostile acts’ against the state.
Miller was detained in April after entering the country as a tourist. North Korean officials claim that Miller tore up his visa at Pyongyang airport and demanded asylum. He was later charged with trying to commit an act of espionage.
North Korea currently has another two American citizens in detention: Kenneth Bae and Jeffrey Fowle. Bae, a Korean-American, was sentenced in 2013 to 15 years hard labour on charges of attempting to overthrow the state. Fowle, is expected to be tried soon for reportedly leaving a Bible at a hotel.