Last year, former U.S. President Bill Clinton visited
North Korea and successfully helped release two journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were accused of entering the country illegally.
On Wednesday, 85-year-old former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife arrived in Pyongyang on a private humanitarian mission in order to win the release of imprisoned American teacher, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, according to the New York Times
Gomes, who has been teaching English in South Korea, was sentenced to 8 years in hard labor camps for allegedly entering the country illegally. The prison camps are known to be some of the most brutal facilities
in the world.
Washington has consistently stated that Carter’s trip is strictly a private mission and not endorsed by the U.S. government.
Upon Carter’s arrival at the Pyongyang airport, the former President was greeted by North Korean diplomat, Kim Kye-gwan. Kye-gwan is also the nation’s main envoy in the six-nation talks to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
“Carter is idealistic, not realistic when it comes to North Korea,” said head of the Institute for Security Strategy in Seoul, Hong Kwan-hee. “North Korea always has tried to use prominent Americans, preferably Democrats, as a medium to engage the United States and drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.”
The U.S. embassy in Seoul has not confirmed Carter’s visit, reports Reuters