The American, 26-year-old Evan Hunziker, was charged as a spy, but North Korean authorities concluded that he was simply a confused young man. They signal Richardson that a visa application would be processed for him and that Richardson would be welcomed as a negotiated on Hunziker’s behalf.
Richardson traveled to Pyongyang as an official envoy of the Clinton administration. Negotiations bog down as the North Koreans insist on observing certain protocols and demand that Hunziker pay a $100,000 fine for illegal entry into the country. Unwilling for the United States to pay what amounts to a ransom, Richardson settles on a “hotel fee” of $5,000 to cover the cost of Hunziker’s house arrest.
The North Koreans released Hunziker to Richardson by the end of November 1996.