Adding to the drama is that Carter, by going to North Korea, would be following in the footsteps of another former president, Bill Clinton, who flew to Pyongyang in early August of last year aboard a private jet. Mr. Clinton, after spending three hours dining with Kim Jong-il returned with two American women who had been picked up by North Korean soldiers on the Tumen River border with China while filming a documentary for former Vice President Al Gore’s Internet TV network.
Carter’s plan to go to North Korea was first revealed on the website of the journal Foreign Policy. The article cited experts as cautioning, however, that “Carter's trip should not be seen as a change in US policy toward Pyongyang and will likely not yield any breakthrough in what most see as a diplomatic stalemate between the two sides.”
On that note, Carter’s mission would differ from that of Clinton in one significant way. Carter would travel with his wife, Rosalynn, and possibly his daughter, Amy, but probably not with a coterie of former US government experts on North Korean issues. His trip, said a State Department spokesman, would be entirely private.
Although Carter would stay overnight in Pyongyang, it’s uncertain if he would see North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il.
Tim Peters, a missionary here with a long background in dealing with defectors in North Korea, says he would be "surprised” if Carter got to meet Mr. Kim.