Chosun Ilbo reports that Aijalon Mahli Gomes, an American facing trial in North Korea, may have been inspired to enter the country by the incursion of a fellow American Robert Park just four weeks earlier. The two were friends.
Pyongyang says Gomes illegally entered the country from China on January 25. That was one month after Robert Park made his Christmas Day entry to North Korea, preaching a Christian message and drawing attention to North Korean repression of human rights. North Korea released Park last month.
In an e-mail from a spokesman, Park describes Gomes as one of his "closest friends" and says he plans a hunger strike in his support. Both Park and Gomes are connected to Pax Koreana, a Christian activist group in Seoul.
Jo says Gomes was probably inspired by Park's actions. But he says Gomes crossed into the North alone, with no help or encouragement from Jo or his group.