Man Attempts to Swim to North Korea


North Koreans observe unnecessarily large statue of Kim Jong-Un.

Tyler Simeone, Copy Editor/Writer

An American man was arrested on September 17th for allegedly trying to enter North Korea by swimming across its river border with South Korea. The man, who is currently being held by South Korean officials, claimed his intention was to meet the country’s infamous leader, Kim Jong-Un.

“I was just trying to go to North Korea in order to meet with supreme leader Kim Jong-Un,” the man in his early 30s said to his South Korean captors. Few details are available on this incident, but it’s not the first foray of a foreign national into the Hermit Country.

Three Americans are currently being held in North Korea, including twenty-four year-old Matthew Miller who allegedly ripped up his tourist visa on arrival to the country. Originally thought to have been seeking asylum, Miller was sentenced to six years of hard labor by a North Korean court on September 14th for espionage.

A Korean-American missionary is also serving time for “hostile acts to bring down the government.” He is two years into his fifteen-year sentence.

Several foreign nationals have attempted to enter North Korea illegally, but their motives are generally ambiguous. While foreigners have been convicted of attempts of espionage and anti-government activity, very little evidence has been presented to support each case. Those who attempt to enter—or, even worse, exit—are typically shot on sight by border guards, including a South Korean man shot and killed by South Korean authorities in September while attempting to float across the river border.

Why, understanding the great danger in entering the world’s most isolationist and enigmatic nation, do foreign nationals attempt to do so?

Though there have been attempts at opening the country to the rest of the world, most notably the controversial trips of former basketball player Dennis Rodman, North Korea is shrouded in all sorts of mystery. Maybe those who swim there are just trying to uncover all that the country has to offer. I, however, will stick to the documentaries.