Pyongyang to deport American who snuck across border

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Pyongyang to deport American who snuck across border

North Korea will deport a U.S. citizen detained for illegally entering the country a month ago, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday.

The KCNA identified the American man as Bruce Byron Lowrance. KCNA said he entered North Korea through its border with China on Oct. 16 and was detained afterward.

He was said to have told North Korean authorities that he was “under the control of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” and North Korea in turn “decided to deport Lowrance.”

Lowrance, a resident of Michigan, was found wandering near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the inter-Korean border last November and deported by South Korean authorities. This marks the first time Pyongyang has released an American in half a year.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo secured the release of three Korean-American detainees ahead of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12. Trump greeted the detainees in person.

Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea since 2016, died days after his release in June 2017 in a vegetative state.

The North’s relatively early release of the American could be an overture to the United States, considering the ongoing North-U.S. negotiations.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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