Jump directly to the content

Man Gets 8 Years of Labor for Entering N. Korea

Reports suggest the man met with and was inspired by Robert Park.

An American has been sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for entering North Korea.

Reports suggest that Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, who had taught English in South Korea, was inspired by Robert Park, a Christian who walked into North Korea from China on Christmas day to "proclaim Christ's love and forgiveness" and call for leader Kim Jong Il to step down. Park was released in February without charge. The Associated Press reports that Gomes attended rallies in Seoul in support of Park, and Gomes was arrested one month after Park entered North Korea.

Former colleagues told the AFP that Gomeswas a deeply religious person. "He acted like an evangelist. He took the trouble to commute to Seoul to participate in Wednesday prayer sessions at a foreigners' church there," a teacher said. Senator John Kerry has called for his release, the Boston Globereports.

Professor Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korean expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said he viewed the huge fine for Gomes as a "signal that North Korea is willing to negotiate and get some money for releasing Mr. Gomes.''

"A lot of North Korea watchers may criticize this foolhardy, risky move by Park and Gomes because it raises thorny issues of having to pay ransom or make some kind of concession,'' Lee said.

"But people like Gomes and Park embody a powerful human presence — the willingness to take a great risk and sacrifice themselves. . . . I think this kind of daring move will come to be viewed as, if not heroic, then certainly courageous in the long run,'' Lee added.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Related Topics:Religious Freedom
Posted:April 9, 2010 at 2:45PM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
Blasphemy Blocks Re-Election of Indonesia's Only Christian Governor
But after losing Jakarta race, Ahok finds some favor in court.
Russia Bans Jehovah's Witnesses as Extremists
High court ruling puts pacifist faith in same category as terrorists.
Here’s the Million-Dollar Answer to How Persecuted Christians Persevere
Under Caesar’s Sword researchers release final analysis of 25 countries.
ISIS Attacks Major Christian Monastery in Egypt
Security stops Sinai assault on St. Catherine and its biblical library, but symbolism matters more.
Christianity Today
Man Gets 8 Years of Labor for Entering N. Korea