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American Jeffrey Fowle Says He Felt 'Compelled to Help' Christians in North Korea

Jeffrey Fowle spoke to NBC News after his release.

An American man freed after five months of detention in North Korea told NBC News on Friday that he left a Bible at a nightclub there, even though he knew it was illegal, because he believed God would take care of the rest.

“I was so motivated by the stories of the suppression of the underground Christians that I felt compelled to help them,” said the man, Jeffrey Fowle, a father of three from Ohio. “I saw my job as leaving the Bible there, and God do the rest.”

Fowle was freed last week. The Swedish Embassy had worked to secure his release because the United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations.

His family had said during his captivity that he was simply a tourist and not proselytizing. Christian evangelism is a crime in North Korea, where the authoritarian government considers religion a threat.

“At the time, I thought it was a risk worth taking,” Fowle said. “I thought — my faith in God said, ‘God will take care of this. You will take care of the Bible and get it into the hands of a Christian group of some sort.’ God had other plans.”

Fowle told NBC News he was served mostly rice, soup and vegetables during his detention. Two other Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, are still detained in North Korea.


— Kristen Welker