Pyongyang releases US citizen, arrested for “missionary activities”
North Korea said that he was freed on humanitarian grounds, following repeated requests from US officials. US diplomat Robert King, who was in the country assessing food needs, said the North had not been promised aid in return.
Eddie Jun Yong-su Mr Jun appeared to be health and in good spirits, but did not make any statements before leaving Pyongyang.
After the delegation landed in Beijing, Mr Jun went into seclusion. Mr King told reporters that he would be reunited with his family "in a day or two".
Mr Jun, a Korean-American, was arrested in November. Local officials said he had confessed to "grave crimes". It is believed he may have been carrying out missionary work whilst visiting the Communist state on business trips.
The officially atheist North views organised religious activity as a potential challenge to the Kim family that has ruled the country for decades. The US state department welcomed the move as "a positive step".
In the past three years, at least five US citizens, almost all of Korean or Chinese origin, have been arrested and held for long periods by North Korea. They include the case of two journalists; Euna Lee and Laura Ling (see “Kim Jong-il pardons US journalists. Shadows cloud success of the Clinton mission,” in AsiaNews, 5 August 2009) and missionary Robert Park (see “Pyongyang to release U.S. missionary who entered North Korea at Christmas,” in AsiaNews, 5 May 2010)