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North Korea releases American to Jimmy Carter with a message - and a snub

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“That was an intended snub,” says Shim Jae-hoon, a longtime analyst of North Korean affairs for magazines and think tanks.

The Carter Center did betray its disappointment in the wording of a three-sentence announcement of the departure that offered no thanks or appreciation for the reception in Pyongyang or Gomes’s release. The statement simply said that Kim had “granted amnesty” to Gomes “at the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes. “ The statement also noted that Gomes had been imprisoned in January and “sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea.”

There was no indication who paid the fine, or how, but the clear inference was that North Korean authorities had gotten the money before Gomes’s departure. Nor is it yet known who chartered or paid for the jet that carried Carter and his entourage to Pyongyang on Wednesday.

Mr. Gomes, looking fit in a short-sleeved light blue polo shirt, embraced Mr. Carter on the tarmac of Sunan Airport outside Pyongyang before climbing up the stairway onto the private jet that flew him home to Boston and a reunion with his mother and other family members.

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