NYU student in North Korea appears on CNN

Christine Wang, Deputy News Editor

Stern junior Won-moon Joo , who made national headlines after he was arrested last April for illegally entering North Korea, was presented to the media last Friday, making a prepared statement.

Joo gave a speech praising North Korea and its government at Friday’s press conference. Others who have been detained in North Korea stated after their release that they were coached on what to say in such statements.

In his speech, Joo talked about his hopes for release.

“I broke the law by illegally entering, I will accept any judgement as given,” Joo said. “But, as a young college student who wanted to satisfy his curiousity, I hope to be
treated generously.”

In an interview with CNN last spring, Joo said he had wanted to be arrested.

“I thought that by my entrance — illegally I acknowledge — that some great event could happen, and that event could affect the relations between the North and South,” Joo said.

Last spring, NYU spokesman John Beckman had confirmed that Joo attends NYU, but was not taking classes at the time and the university did not know of his travels or intentions.

“When we heard the news reports, NYU got in touch with the student’s family to express our concerns over his welfare and to convey our support. His well-being is in our thoughts and prayers,” Beckman told Newsday. 

North Korean authorities have not disclosed whether they are going to prosecute or release Joo .

A spokesman for the South Korea’s Unification Ministry said last spring it was asking for Joo’s release.

“It is deeply regrettable that North Korea is detaining Joo Won-moon, who is a South Korean national, without any explanation to our government and his family,” the spokesman said. “The government strongly demands the North immediately release Joo and return him to the arms of his family.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 28 print edition. Email Christine Wang at [email protected].