Ethnic Korean to be triedThe Korean American being detained by North Korea is a Christian pastor, Jun Young-su, or Eddie Jun, sources in the U.S. told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. North Korea confirmed yesterday that it has been detaining a man going by that name since November.
“U.S. citizen Jun Yong-su was arrested in November 2010 for entering Joson [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and committing a crime against the republic and was investigated by the related authorities,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
“He admitted to his criminal activities during the investigation,” the KCNA said, adding that authorities plan to indict him to stand trial.
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department disclosed that an American was being detained in the North and urged the North to release him on humanitarian grounds.
According to the sources, Jun, in his 60s, was involved in missionary work in the North and in China until the North arrested him on espionage charges in November. He had been working as a missionary in China and was sent by a Christian group based in South Korea. He was ordained as a minister in China.
Jun had also been working as a businessman, operating a factory producing agricultural machines in the North, the sources said.
“Jun traveled to North Korea twice a year and knows the North Korean situation well,” said an official of a Korean church in California.
The sources said Jun is married with one son and one daughter and that his family has requested former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the U.S. Congress to help free Jun.
Carter is scheduled visit to Pyongyang in two weeks and some North Korea observers suspect that Jun’s detention is the regime’s latest attempt to use a hostage to gain leverage in negotiations.
“North Korea regards the detention of an American as a card to play in negotiations with the U.S. for such things as food aid,” said a Seoul official, declining to be identified. “But the U.S. government makes it clear that it will not link the detention of a U.S. citizen with other agendas.”
Some see it as a warning against the growing missionary work in the North by U.S. citizens. “Whether they are there for business purposes or to volunteer, North Korea knows the background of everybody coming in,” said one church source.
The sources said that Korean churches based in the U.S. have stepped up their humanitarian and missionary work, going beyond the work done by churches based in South Korea.
Christian groups and churches in South Korea had been involved in humanitarian work. But much of the aid from them has been suspended in the wake of Seoul’s closure of aid channels into North Korea, which followed the North’s deadly provocations against South Koreans last year. Almost 99 percent of the pastors entering North Korea of late have U.S. citizenship, the sources said.
By Kim Ki-jung, Moon Gwang-lip [firstname.lastname@example.org]
억류 미국인은 58세 전용수 목사…북한서 선교 활동하며 공장 운영
북한에 억류된 한국계 미국인 전용수(미국명 에디 전)씨는 캘리포니아주 오렌지 카운티에 거주하는 목사로 밝혀졌다. 58세인 전씨는 중국과 북한을 넘나들며 선교활동을 펼쳐온 것으로 알려졌다. 남가주 지역 한인 교회 관계자들에 따르면 전씨는 최근 한국에 본부를 두고 북한 선교를 하고 있는 모퉁이돌 선교회를 통해 중국에 파견돼 선교사로 활동했으며 중국에서 목사 안수를 받았다. 전씨는 선교활동 외에 북한에서 농기계 생산 공장을 운영하는 등 사업가로도 활동했다.
전씨는 부인과 두 자녀를 두고 있다. 전씨의 가족은 카터 전 대통령과 의회 관계자들에게도 전씨의 구명을 위해 도움을 요청한 상태다. 전씨의 구명활동에 나선 오렌지 카운티 지역 공화당 연방 하원의원인 에드 로이스 의원은 2009년 여기자 로라 링과 유나 리가 북한에 억류됐을 때도 구출활동에 나선 바 있다.
북한은 14일 “미국인 전용수가 조선에 들어와 반공화국범죄행위를 감행해 지난해 11월 체포됐으며 해당 기관의 조사를 받았다”고 밝혔다. 이는 미국이 한국계 미국인 한 명이 북한에 억류돼 있다고 밝힌 지 하루 만이다. 북한 관영 조선중앙통신은 “해당 기관이 전씨를 재판에 넘길 준비를 하고 있다”고 밝혔다.
LA 중앙일보 김기정·최상태·장열 기자