A U.S. citizen attempted to swim across a river into North Korea, South Korean authorities said Wednesday.
The American, said to be in his late 20s or early 30s and of Arabic descent, told investigators he "was trying to go to North Korea in order to meet with supreme leader Kim Jong Un," South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported. He was arrested by South Korean troops Tuesday night in a restricted area of the Han River and remains in questioning.
"We have been in touch with the appropriate South Korean authorities regarding the reports," Nida A. Emmons, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, told The Wall Street Journal in an emailed statement.
While Americans are allowed to enter the country as tourists with travel agencies, the U.S. has warned against visiting the country, and with good reason: The country most recently sentenced 24-year-old tourist Matthew Todd Miller to six years of hard labor after suspecting him of planning to commit espionage.
In 2013, officials sentenced American tour organizer and missionary Kenneth Bae to 15 years of hard labor of "hostile acts" against Pyongyang. Meanwhile, American Jeffrey Fowle, a 56-year-old from Miamisburg, Ohio, is still awaiting trial in the country after leaving a Bible at a seamen's club in May.