The U.S. performed a top secret mission in early November to retrieve two prisoners held captive in North Korea.
Top spy James Clapper successfully brought Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae back to the states. However, Miller revealed his real intentions Thursday.
“I was trying to stay in the country,” Miller told NKNews.org. “They wanted me to leave. The very first night they said, ‘We want you to leave on the next flight.’ But I refused. I just did not leave.”
In the interview, Miller said his trip was not political. All he wanted to do was to talk to a North Korean about “normal things” and take a trip a normal tourist would not have taken.
“My main fear was that they would not arrest me when I arrived,” he said.
Miller intentionally damaged his visa on the way to Pyongyang’ to raise government eye brows. He was reportedly moved to a guest house and his detainment did not actually start until five months after he arrived in North Korea.
Miller was sentenced to six years hard labor for committing “hostile acts.” Miller said he was prepared for the torture.
The 25-year-old’s notebook was confiscated and in it revealed plans to remove American military from South Korea and attempting to access files from a U.S. military base in South Korea. Miller painted himself as a hacker.
However, the notebook was a ploy for Miller to try and gain political asylum in North Korea.
Miller and Bae were retrieved a month after Miller’s sentencing.
The U.S. and North Korea have no formal diplomatic relations and a legacy of mutual hostility. Clapper sensed a “ray of optimism” about the future from his brief encounter with a younger generation — specifically, an official in his 40s who accompanied him to the airport and “professed interest in more dialogue, asked me if I’d be willing to come back to Pyongyang. Which I would.”
Clapper said visiting North Korea has “always been on my professional bucket list.”
Bae was detained in 2012 while leading a tour group to a North Korean economic zone.
They were the last two Americans held captive by North Korea.