North Korean authorities have released a New York University student after he was detained for six months in the communist country, according to a New York Daily News article, which added that Joo Won-Moon, a 21-year-old South Korean citizen with permanent U.S. residency, was freed at the border village of Panmunjom at 5:30 p.m. Monday local time, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
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Joo was captured April 22 crossing into North Korea and has been in the country's custody ever since, appearing at news conferences in Pyongyang with statements believed to be coerced, the Daily News reported. He allegedly confessed to entering North Korea illegally in an interview with CNN in May.
“I am well and there’s no need to worry, because the people here have treated me with the best of humanitarian treatment,” Joo said to CNN.
It's not clear if formal charges were filed against Joo, who claims to have been staying at a three-bedroom suite without phone or Internet access, the Daiy News reported. He was released just months after his capture, unlike South Korean missionary Kim Jung-wook who has been held by North Korea for more than two years.
Joo had been living in New Jersey while attending NYU‘s Stern School of Business, but the school was unaware of Joo’s trip to North Korea at the time of his capture, the Daily News stated.
After hearing of Joo's release, NYU spokesman John Beckman released a statement quoted in the article, "He and his family have been in our thoughts. We're relieved to learn of his release and are glad for this good outcome.”