3 things we learned when North Korea detained a local man

West Carrollton resident Jeffrey Fowle was detained by the North Korean government for nearly six months in 2014. STAFF
West Carrollton resident Jeffrey Fowle was detained by the North Korean government for nearly six months in 2014. STAFF

Another U.S. citizen is being detained by the North Korean government, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The action comes about 2½ years after the DPRK released West Carrollton resident Jeffrey Fowle after he was detained for leaving a Bible in a nightclub there.

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Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, was detained Saturday morning as he was planning to fly out of Pyongyang International Airport.

Kim is one of three U.S. citizens currently being detained by North Korea, according to media reports.

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The university professor is being held along with Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old graduate of Wyoming High School near Cincinnati and a student at the University of Virginia. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor on charges related to the removal of a political sign.

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The third is Kim Dong Chul, the president of a company involved in international trade and hotel services. A South Korean native who lived in Virginia, he is serving 10 years on espionage charges.

Here are three things we learned when North Korea detained Fowle:

-If Fowle's experience is any indication, Kim will likely face long periods of isolation. Fowle said he was detained in early May 2014, a few days after leaving a Bible in a nightclub.

RELATED: Fowle released from North Korea

Upon being taken into custody, the Beavercreek High School graduate said knew he was in “deep trouble.” What followed was nearly six months of isolation for at least 23 hours each day in a hotel, what he called the “worst part of the whole experience.” Until his final day of captivity, “I didn’t understand most of what was going on.”

-If he is released, it would follow a complicated process. North Korea has a history of imprisoning detainees, as the sentences of Warmbier and Chul demonstrate. In fact, Fowle's status was in doubt for months and there was talk that he would face years in prison.


Any chance of release would likely include negotiations, envoys, and intervention the Swedish Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea. It would also involve the U.S. State Department and the White House.

Fowle’s release came at least two months after former U.S. Rep. and ambassador Tony Hall met with a North Korean diplomat. Fowle’s family also wrote letters to President Obama and former Presidents Carter, George W. Bush and Clinton.

-A low profile can help. Friends and relatives saying little or nothing publicly in the U.S. can help detainees in North Korea, some experts said.

RELATED: Family of local detainee kept low profile

North Korea can use those who are detained as bargaining chips, trying to get attention and trying to get the U.S. to negotiate directly with their government.


RELATED: Fowle fielded hundreds of requests for interviews

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