Jim's Blog

And He Huffed and Puffed : North Korea Detains another U.S. Citizen : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan

According to the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea, seemingly desperate to be identified as “the little nation that could”, found a new and even more dangerous way to provoke the United States when it detained a U.S. citizen at Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday morning. The man, Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk, was detained on Saturday, Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, told The Associated Press. Mr. Park said Mr. Kim had taught accounting at the university for about a month, and had taught at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China before coming to Pyongyang. He said Mr. Kim had been detained by officials at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang as he was trying to leave North Korea.

North Korean ArmyMr. Kim was detained while trying to board a flight to China according to Colin McCulloch, the director of external relations at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). Some reports say that Tony Kim, 58, was with his wife when he was detained. The detention was confirmed by Martina Aberg, deputy chief of mission at the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. The embassy represents US interests in North Korea, since Washington and Pyongyang do not have direct diplomatic relations. “He was prevented from getting on the flight out of Pyongyang,” Aberg told CNN. “We don’t comment further than this.”

The US State Department on Sunday said it was working on the case.  “We are aware of reports that a US citizen was detained in North Korea,” said a department official. “The protection of US citizens is one of the Department’s highest priorities.”

The official said the US would work with the Swedish Embassy on the matter, but did not provide further comment. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing unnamed sources, earlier said that a Korean-American man identified only by his last name, Kim, had been arrested at the airport. It said that Kim has been involved in aid and relief programs to North Korea.  This brings  the number of Americans thought to be held by the secretive nation to three.

NK1Otto

PHOTO: American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang.

Otto Warmbier, (Left) 21, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained at Pyongyang airport on January 2 last year after visiting the country with a tour group. He has since been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly removing a political sign from a hotel wall. Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized US citizen of Korean origin, was arrested on October 2015. Last year, North Korea sentenced him to 10 years of hard labor on espionage charges.

Since 2013, at least two other US citizens and a British journalist have also been detained for shorter periods and then released. All of them were grabbed by North Korean security forces as they attempted to fly out of Pyongyang airport.

Merril Newman, who at the time of his October 2013 detention was an 85-year old US veteran of the Korean War, was released two months later after a videotaped apology. American Jeffrey Fowle spent five months in detention in 2014 for allegedly leaving a bible at a club for foreign sailors. And last May, North Korean security officers detained BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes as he was about to fly out of the country. He was interrogated for at least 10 hours and accused of defaming the Korean nation before eventually being released.

Relations with Washington have reached a pitch recently, as North Korea has tested missiles and the United States has threatened to send warships to the region.

North Korea said Sunday it was ready to sink a United States aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a United States carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, Reuters reported.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

The detention comes amid a buildup of tension on the Korean peninsula. The US and Chinese governments have repeatedly warned the North Korean regime not to conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test. Pyongyang says it has the right to develop nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan — both key US allies in the region — have condemned frequent North Korean missile launches that are all banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Washington recently dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to the region as a warning to Pyongyang.

Japan announced Sunday that two of its destroyers began conducting joint naval drills with a USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group in the western Pacific Ocean

Last year, North Korea sentenced an American college student, Otto F. Warmbier, to 15 years’ hard labor after accusing him of trying to steal a political banner from his hotel in Pyongyang. It later sentenced another American, Kim Dong-chul, to 10 years’ hard labor on charges of spying and other offenses.

North Korea detainees

Jeffrey Fowle was picked up by an American helicopter in Pyongyang and flown to Guam. For those of you who don’t know, Fowle was one of three Americans who were being held in North Korea for various crimes against the state. Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller remain interred in the notorious prison camps of NoKo. CNN was granted access to interview these men before they were sentenced.

Fowle was accused of leaving a bible in his hotel room. He was arrested at the airport. Promoting religion that is not state authorized is a crime. Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years for trying to overthrow the government, setting up bases of rebellion against the North Korean authority. This is what they were accused of and pled guilty to.

Matthew Miller was arrested for ripping up his Visa and seeking asylum in North Korea. I guess he thought he would be welcomed like Rodman was. He wasn’t made an honorary North Korean, he was placed in a prison camp.

In 2014, an American citizen, Jeffrey E. Fowle, was arrested and accused of leaving a Bible in a hotel. He was released later that year.

North korean police & DogsKenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor after he was charged with trying to establish a secret proselytizing network, was freed in 2014 after the American government sent the director of national intelligence at the time, James R. Clapper Jr., to North Korea.

Americans are not the only foreigners being held in the North. In 2015, a South Korea-born Canadian pastor was sentenced there to hard labor for life on charges of plotting to overthrow the North Korean leadership. The North has also arrested at least four South Koreans on spying and other charges in recent years.

So, that’s it.  I’m taking Pyongyang off my vacation list.  That leaves Figi, Bali , St. Tropez and Gary, Indiana.

The Author

James Riordan

James Riordan

Rare is it that any author will have one of his books described as the definitive work on a particular subject, but such a distinction has been bestowed by critics on no less than four books written by James Riordan. The New York Times Bestseller Break on Through, Riordan’s biography of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, has not only been called “the most objective, thorough and professional Morrison biography” by the Times Book Review but also named as one of the Ten All Time Best Rock Biographies by Amazon.com. Riordan’s The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco) was called “One of the best how-to books ever written” by the Los Angeles Daily News and “The ultimate career book on the music industry” by Recording, Engineer & Producer. Critics described Riordan’s The Bishop of Rwanda as “one of the most important books you’ll ever read.” and The Coming of the Walrus, Riordan’s novel about the 60s as “the definitive book on the era” and “a hilarious tale of a harrowing search for the greatest truth of all”. With the release of A Well Thought Out Scream and Madman in the Gate, Riordan pushed the boundaries again with poetry/song lyric books that contain hundreds of stunning, beautiful and poignant images from artists and photographers from all over the world. In the summer of 2013 a new edition of The Coming of the Walrus was released to rave reviews followed by The Kill Switch. The author of thirty-three books, James Riordan’s career began in the music industry where as a songwriter, manager, producer and concert promoter he worked with several well known artists. In 1976 he began writing a newspaper column, Rock-Pop, which he later syndicated. Riordan soon became one of America’s premier rock journalists with articles reaching millions of readers including those of Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Circus, Musician, and newspapers like The Chicago Daily News and The Kansas City Star. His reputation for relating on a one-to-one level soon led to interviews with George Harri-son, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Mandrell, Crosby, Stills & Nash and countless others. His first book, The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco in 1980) became the largest selling book ever written about the music business. The guide to “succeeding in the music business without selling your soul” was praised by Variety ,The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Las Vegas Sun, The Minneapolis Tribune, Billboard, Record World and many more. The Platinum Rainbow became an industry-wide phenomenon and interviews with James Riordan were aired on over 1200 radio stations and numerous television talk shows. Next Riordan collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winner Jason Miller on a mini-series for network television (The Irish) and a movie of the week for CBS (Bless Me Father). In June 1991, William Morrow & Co. published Break On Through to outstanding sales and reviews. Riordan worked as a consultant on Oliver Stone’s film of Morrison’s life, The Doors, which led to his writing Stone’s biography. Published by Hyperion /Disney in December 1995, Entertainment Weekly called STONE “an unflinching biography... enough spectacle to fill a month of daytime-TV talk shows.” The New York Post said reading the book was like “the sensory overload of watching all of Oliver Stone’s movies back to back.” Riordan was interviewed by Inside Edition, People Magazine, The Tom Snyder Show, and many others. From 1997-2000, Riordan created and co-starred in a local television program, Kankakee Valley Prime Time, which won six Crystal Communicators, three Tellys, and earned Riordan a Chicago/ Midwest Emmy Nomination for Writing the program. In the summer of 1999, James Riordan wrote, directed and starred in Maddance, an hour long dramatic project which won Crystal Communicators for Drama, Writing, Acting and Directing. On April 9, 2000, James’ 16 year old son, Jeremiah, was killed as a passenger in an accident that involved three drunk drivers. Shortly after this, James founded Make it Stick which works to warn teens of the dangers of substance abuse and publishes a magazine distributed to high school students. In 2001, he founded Jeremiah’s – A Place to be Yourself to give teens a place to hang out away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Force to close by its incredible growth rate, Jeremiah’s was recognized as one of the fastest growing and most successful teen centers in the United States. In 2004, Toastmasters International named Riordan Communicator of the Year for Central Illinois, the YMCA gave him their Service to Youth Award and the United Way named him the Outstanding Volunteer of Kankakee County. Returning to writing, Riordan went to Africa to write The Bishop of Rwanda, (with an intro by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren). In November of 2006, Harper Collins released a new edition of Break On Through followed by The Coming of the Walrus (Image Workshop) in December and The Bishop of Rwanda (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) to rave reviews (“Powerful …plumbs the depths of God’s forgiveness and finds no bottom – Publisher’s Weekly). In 2011, he won the Pledge For Life Harold Award for his work with area youth. In the summer of 2012, Lee and Shane Stanley (Gridiron Gang) optioned Maddance as a feature film followed by Apothecary Films optioning The Kill Switch in 2013 and Omni Films optioning Final Service to film in May. Riordan joined the staff of the Mancow Syndicated Television and Radio show in January of 2014 and is now seen and heard across America on a weekly basis. His biography is included in Who’s Who in Entertainment , Who’s Who in Poetry and Contemporary Authors of America. James Riordan – Works Books The Kill Switch, novel with Andrew Dahlmaine, Stonegate Ink, 2013 The Coming of the Walrus, Trade Paperback Editn, Image Workshop 2012 Springboard To Heaven ( Jojo Sayson Adventure), Image Workshop, 2012 The Elijah Collection, novel collection with Bill Myers, Zondervan, 2011 The Well Thought Out Scream (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 Madman in the Gate (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 The Deadly Loyalty Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Ancient Forces Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Enemy Strikes with Bill Myers (Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 Deception with Bill Myers (Book 2 Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 The Bishop of Rwanda (Finding Forgiveness) Thomas Nelson, March 2007 Paperback Edition May, 2012 The Coming of the Walrus (What Really Happened in the '60s) IW, 2006 Break on Through (The Life & Death of Jim Morrison), Morrow, 1991. (New York Times Bestseller, Published in 5 languages, Hardcover, 5 Paperback Editions, Harper Trade Paperback November, 2006) Stone (The Controversies, Excesses & Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker), Disney/Hyperion,1995. (Published in 3 languages, Hardcover, Paperback Edition). Making It in the New Music Business, Writers Digest Books, 1987, (Second Edition, Revised and Updated 1991, Two Hardcover Editions) The Platinum Rainbow (How to Succeed in the Music Business Without Selling Your Soul) 250,000 copies with Bob Monaco, Swordsman Press, 1980, Twenty-Three Editions, Revised 1988) 25 Year Anniversary Edition, 2005 Capture the Wind (Microphones) w.Tom Lubin, Literary Mouse Press,1989 Private Biography of Russ Kalvin, founder of Kalvin Corp., 1990 Private Biography of Steve Stefano, founder of Joico Hair Products, 1993. Mystery of the Invisible Knight (Book 2 in the BloodHounds Series) with Bill Myers, Bethany House,1997. Matters of the Heart (The Life & Times of Edgar Cullman), Culbro, 1997. The Curse (Book 7 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1997. The Undead (Book 8 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1996. The Scream (Book 9 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1998 The Ancients (Book 10 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1999. The Cards (Book 11 Forbidden Doors Series) with Bill Myers, Tyndale,2000 Films Final Service, co-written with Gary Moore and based on his book, Omni Productions, to be filmed in May, 2014. Maddance, Writer/Director/Lead Actor, Search Engine Films, Simmcomm, 1999. (Winner of 4 Crystal Communicators including Best Drama, Screenplay, Director, Male Actor – Austin, TX.1999) Performance (The Life of Ingrid Bergman), Screenplay, Lancit Productions 1998. Returned to Author when film division closed)Rewritten2009 Shadowdancers, Story & Screenplay, Story with Bill Myers, 1997 Dr. Babylon, Story 1996. Air Guitar, Story & Screenplay, 1994 The Platinum Rainbow, Story & Screenplay, 1993 Television/Video Kankakee Valley Prime Time, Writer, Director, Producer, 1997-2000. (Nominated for Midwest/Chicago Emmy for Writing, 1998, 3 Telly Awards, 4 Crystal Communicators 1998-2000). Angels Among Us (The Amtrak City of New Orleans Train Disaster, Co- Producer, (Telly Award, 2000). River Valley Sports Authority, Producer, 1999-2003. I Hate The World (Hypnoises Music Video), Writer/Director/Producer, Crystal Communicator for Best Music Video Concept, 1998). The United Way (Video) Crystal Communicator for Best Video for a Charitable Organization, 1998.

If it isn't money and it isn't fame and it isn't sex... then what... God?

— James Riordan, 2000

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