North Korea releases NYU student Joo Won-moon six months after arrest

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

A South Korean N.Y.U. student who was arrested by North Korean authorities after crossing into the country from China was released today.

Joo Won-moon, 21, was arrested in April after entering North Korea through a border crossing that involved scaling two barbed wire fences and walking along a river until he was captured by North Korean soldiers.


"I wanted to be arrested,"Joo told CNN in a media appearance North Korean authorities arranged in May. He had hoped to instigate some kind of peace process between South Korea and North Korea by getting arrested, he said.


"I thought that by my entrance to the DPRK [North Korea], illegally I acknowledge, I thought that some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect on the relations between the north and [South Korea]," he said.

He was not put on trial in North Korea, the ABC reports, escaping the fate of many other foreigners who enter the country illegally. According to the AFP, Americans–mostly evangelical Christians–have been known to cross the border illegally. They usually serve short prison terms before being released.

"This morning, North Korea's Red Cross sent a message saying it would repatriate Joo at 5:30pm through Panmunjom," the South Korean government said in a statement. "We welcome the decision…and we urge North Korea to release three other [South Korean] people being detained."

Joo was born in South Korea but grew up in Wisconsin and Rhode Island—he is a U.S. permanent resident, according to the AFP.