A US citizen released after six months’ detention in North Korea arrived in Seoul yesterday after he left the North with a US delegation, South Korean news media said.
Eddie Jun, a US citizen of Korean ancestry, came to Seoul via Beijing after he flew out of Pyongyang with the US group led by Robert King, US special envoy for human rights and humanitarian issues.
“I have to go to hospital now. I’ll have a chance to talk to you later,” Jun told journalists upon arrival at Incheon International Airport. He was then whisked away in a minibus, Yonhap news agency said.
Wearing a black zip-up jacket and black trousers, he looked in relatively good health and walked without help despite his detention in the North since November last year on unspecified charges, Yonhap said.
Earlier yesterday, King and Jun arrived in Beijing aboard a flight of Air Koryo, the North’s state airline.
“We are very happy to report that Mr Jun, the American citizen who’s being held in Pyongyang, has been released,” King told reporters on arrival in Beijing. “We are also delighted that within a day or two he’ll be able to be back with his wife and family.”
King said Washington had not offered food aid in exchange for his freedom.
“We did not negotiate or agree to any provision of food assistance. That’s an issue that will have to be made in Washington,” he said.
Jun, a California-based businessman, had been detained for apparent missionary activities in the hardline communist state.
King’s departure came a day after North Korea said it had decided to free and return Jun “on humanitarian grounds in consideration of repeated requests” by recent US visitors to Pyongyang, including King.
King was at the head of a team to assess whether to resume US food aid to the hungry state. UN agencies say that 6 million North Koreans urgently need assistance.
Lim Chang-ho, a professor at a South Korean theological college, said earlier this month that Jun had engaged in “aggressive” missionary activities in the North.