Who will go to Pyongyang next time another American gets in trouble?
The Carter Center released the following statement earlier today:
ATLANTA….Former President Jimmy Carter announced that he is leaving Pyongyang, North Korea, this morning accompanied by Mr. Aijalon Mahli Gomes. Mr. Gomes was imprisoned in January of this year and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea. At the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr. Gomes was granted amnesty by the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong-Il.
It is expected that Mr. Gomes will be returned to Boston, Mass., early Friday afternoon, to be reunited with his mother and other members of his family.
This was a private mission of The Carter Center, and was neither requested nor sponsored by the U.S. Government. Also participating were Dr. John Hardman, CEO of The Carter Center, John Moores, former Board of Trustees chairman, son Jeffrey Carter, and staff aide Nancy Konigsmark.
Meanwhile CBS News reports that the State Department has issued a travel warning for North Korea after former President Carter cleared the country's airspace and has a message for Americans: Just because President Jimmy Carter was able to enter and exit North Korea doesn't mean you should start planning your vacation in Pyongyang.
You can read the new travel warning dated August 27, 2010 here.
We remember, of course, that Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States won the release of American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, opened a diplomatic channel to North Korea’s reclusive government and dined with the North’s ailing leader, Kim Jong-il in 2009.
Now, President Carter has now successfully returned with Mr. Gomes.
For those still contemplating a vacation in North Korea despite the new travel warning, here is something to think about -- only two remaining ex-POTUS (President of the United States) have yet to rescue an American in trouble in North Korea -- 41st (George H. W. Bush) and 43rd (George W. Bush).
You might think really, really, hard before you wander off into the hermit kingdom.
We should note that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the formal name of North Korea was designated by George W. (43rd) a member of the “axis of evil in 2002. In 2008, he removed North Korea off the off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
We thought we'd mention that but don't let that give you any vacation ideas.