North will release Korean-American missionary

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North will release Korean-American missionary

North Korea said yesterday it will release a detained Korean-American missionary in the latest conciliatory gesture toward Washington ahead of possible food aid from the United States.

The American, identified as Jun Young-su, was arrested in November for committing a crime against the North.

Jun admitted his crime, but the North decided to free him by taking into account pleas by high-profile Americans who recently visited Pyongyang, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

The U.S. government has also repeatedly called on the North to free Jun, whom informed sources have claimed was accused of getting involved in unauthorized religious activities.

North Korea “decided to release Jun Young-su on humanitarian grounds,” the KCNA said, without elaborating on such details as when he will be allowed to return home or how.

The North’s move came after Robert King, the U.S. envoy for North Korean human rights, expressed regret over Jun’s alleged crime and vowed to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen again, according to KCNA.

King arrived in the North earlier this week to assess the North’s food situation, a possible indication of the resumption of U.S. food aid to the North.

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