Religious connection to local man detained in North Korea

WEST CARROLLTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Folks in West Carrollton want to see Jeffrey Fowle back home.

“I’m just really surprised that something like that is going on there today,” said neighbor Dave Erisman.

Fowle, a Moraine street department employee, is being detained in North Korea after he left a Bible in a hotel where he was staying. 2 NEWS interviewed him in 1996 for a story about potholes. Fowle arrived in North Korea April 29th as part of a tourist group but has been held in captivity since mid-May.

“The North Korea sees Christianity especially Protestantism as a form of Western influence, and potentially, a form of Western conspiracy to attempt to undermine their thought control of their own citizens,” said UD political science and human rights expert Tony Talbott.

Talbott said leaving a Bible is illegal.

“If you broke a law in a  foreign country, you’re subject to the criminal justice system of that foreign country, and this is one of the places with one of the worst criminal justice systems in the world,” said Talbott.

Talbott said North Korean officials could see the Bible as an attempt to spread Christianity.

“Because we are here, we have freedom of religion, but many people don’t have any freedom,” commented Pastor Young Yoon of the Seventh-Day Adventist Dayton Korean Church.

Pastor Yoon said he had a parishioner that escaped from North Korea to the United States.

“He got free, not only free from North Korea, from sin,” said Yoon.

Neighbors are hoping for the same fate for Fowle.

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