SEOUL – North Korea said Friday it had been holding a 24-year-old U.S. tourist in custody for more than two weeks after he apparently ripped up his visa at immigration and demanded asylum.
The announcement, made in a brief dispatch carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, came as U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up the first part of a two-day visit to South Korea.
The tourist, identified as “Miller Matthew Todd”, had been taken into custody April 10 for “his rash behavior in the course of going through formalities for entry” into North Korea, KCNA said.
The report said he remained in detention and was under investigation.
North Korea is currently holding another U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, described by a North Korean court as a militant Christian evangelist.
Bae was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor on charges of seeking to topple the government.
U.S. efforts to secure Bae’s release have so far been unsuccessful.
According to KCNA, Miller had a tourist visa, but tore it to pieces and shouted that “he would seek asylum” and had come to North Korea “after choosing it as a shelter.”
Such an action constituted a “gross violation” of North Korean law, the agency said.
There was no immediate reaction from Washington, or Obama’s delegation in Seoul.