It’s a story that begins with North Korea trying to refuse to imprison him, and ends with him going home on the personal airplane of America’s top spy.
It’s clearly more than an average vacation, yet this is exactly what 25-year-old Matthew Miller – the Bakersfield, California citizen who had his release from North Korea secured last Saturday by U.S. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper – has just experienced.
Enduring 210 days held prisoner by Pyongyang, Miller’s tale – now revealed exclusively by NK News – shows more signs of being an extreme vacation causing a major headache for Washington than the “six years of hard labor” North Korean state media called it when he was sentenced in September.
Despite fears in Washington about Miller’s attempt to claim “political asylum” during a tourist trip to North Korea this April, an interview with NK News shows that, far from being arrested upon entry, it took considerable effort for the curious American to get entangled in the DPRK legal system.
During his nearly six months in custody, Matthew Miller said he wanted to find out what North Korea was like beyond the tourist trail, something it seems he was successful in discovering.
“This might sound strange, but I was prepared for the ‘torture’ but instead of that I was killed with kindness, and with that my mind folded and the plan fell apart,” Miller told NK News this week from California.
“I sincerely apologized to North Korea, it was not coerced at all,” Miller said of his court statement to DPRK legal authorities.
“Before going I did not think I would feel guilt for my actions toward North Korea. Over time that changed and I did feel guilt for the crime, so in that sense I consider what I did to be a mistake even though I did achieve (my) goals.”
WHY HE WENT
When curiosity about the international pariah state was not satisfied by regular news and documentaries, the California-based citizen decided to travel to and attempt to defect to the DPRK in April 2014, because the American “just wanted to have a face-to-face with North Koreans to answer my personal questions,” he said.
“I achieved my personal goal of seeing more of North Korea. I wanted to connect with the people – not question the government or the politics. I have no personal politics. This was not a political trip.”
Miller, who left an almost undetectable online footprint up to the point of his detention, was detained by Pyongyang on April 25 – 15 days after he arrived in country.
Five months later, Miller was sentenced to six years of hard labor on espionage charges, a crime he called both true and false.
“I was not there to give secret information or anything like that. I just wanted to speak to an ordinary North Korean person about normal things,” Miller said.
Yet despite what would have once been a hard-earned propaganda prize for Pyongyang, North Korea actually tried hard to get him to leave “on the next plane” after they took him into custody, said Miller. “But I refused. So they detained me.”
Miller might be considered a tourist from hell, but one with the best of intentions.
(For complete story and links to all North Korea see NKNews.org link below http://www.nknews.org/2014/11/matthew-millers-excellent-adventure-in-north-korea/)