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North Korea Holds American Over Bible Left in Hotel, Reports Say

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- An American tourist is being held in North Korea reportedly for leaving a Bible in a hotel room as he was leaving the country, according to news reports in North and South Korea.

He was identified in Korean without providing the English spelling, but it translates to Jeffrey Edward Fowle.

"The U.S. citizen, who entered the DPRK (North Korea) on April 29 as a tourist, engaged in activities that were in breach of DPRK's laws," the country's official Korean Central News Agency said Friday.

South Korea's Yonhap News quoting sources in North Korea said he had left a Bible in the hotel upon departure.

He is the third American currently held in North Korea.

North Korea has been pushing to promote tourism as part of efforts to earn badly needed foreign currency, but the country is also extremely sensitive about how visitors act while in the country.

Friday's announcement came as tension on the Korean Peninsula remains high with North Korea keeping up rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea following its series of missile and rocket launches earlier this year. The North's state media have also unleashed racist and sexist slurs against U.S. and South Korean leaders.

The peninsula is still in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

The U.S. and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations, but Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, oversees consular issues for the United States there.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country after he apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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