Jimmy Carter has arrived in Pyongyang in order to negotiate for the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, an English teacher from South Korea originally from Boston (only 10 minutes from my house incidentally) who crossed over the border into North Korea from China. He was sentenced in April to hard labor and a fine of $700,000 dollars.
This is the second former president of America who has had to rush in to save Americans who have made their way into North Korea. In my opinion, Gomes' case was the strangest of them all. While the others were high profile people, journalists and a Christian activists, Gomes was more or less a nobody, so to speak. I remember when I read initial reports about the incident, reports stated that he went in because he wanted to live there and looked up to the regime. Later, reports came out that he was very religious and was possibly trying to repeat Robert Park's mission to the DPRK. Unfortunately for this guy, people haven't put such a priority for getting him out of there since he is more or less a nobody. I'm interested to see how Carter's negotiations go to get him released.
While Carter is in town, he will be trying to ease the tensions between the North and South.
I recommend checking out the NYtimes article here about Carter's visit, and another article about the labor camps here from Newsweek.
Incidentally, I was horrified to read in the Newsweek article that in 1996 there was testimony to the existence of some American POWs that had been captured during the Korean war and were still alive. Meaning that there is a slight possibility that one or two of those guys could still be alive today, still in prison...