North Korea will place two American tourists on trial for "perpetuating hostile acts"-such as leaving a-Bible in a hotel room-against the country.
Fox News reports that Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle were detained by North Korean authorities earlier this year. However, the officials did not reveal exactly why the two men were arrested or what kind of punishment they might face.
"Their hostile acts were confirmed by evidence and their own testimonies," simply read a partial statement from the official Korean Central News Agency.
However, diplomatic sources said 56 year old Fowle was originally detained for leaving the Bible in his hotel room, a move the government called "inconsistent with the purpose of a tourist visit."
"The significance of these arrests and trials cannot be overstated: North Korea is choosing to publicly blame Christian missionaries for its human rights problems and internal difficulties," Seoul USA CEO Pastor Eric Foley wrote.
"There are important lessons to be learned from the arrests by Christians seeking to reach North Korea in the future. Now is not the time to comment on the strategies of those being detained. But what we can conclude with certainty is that there is no 'back door' into North Korea - no strategy for sharing the gospel there that does not involve paying the highest of personal prices. This is what North Korean underground Christians have known and practiced for years."
A spokesperson reveals that Fowle was not on a church mission when visiting in North Korea. His wife and three children "miss him very much" and are "anxious for his return home."
In North Korea, it is illegal to spread the gospel of Christ, and many Christians have been detained or killed for violating such laws within the country. Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae has been imprisoned since November 2012 also for "hostile acts" against the state, and has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
CNN reports that the U.S. Department of State has warned citizens traveling to North Korea that they can expect no protection from arrest, as America does not maintain diplomatic relations with the country.
"In the past 18 months, North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours. Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not succeeded in gaining their release," read the warning, posted in May.
"Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside North Korea, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and/or political activities (whether those activities took place inside or outside North Korea), unauthorized travel, or unauthorized interaction with the local population."