LEBANON, Ohio — An American who is back home after being detained for nearly six months in North Korea said Friday that he left a Bible in a nightclub hoping it would get into the hands of the underground Christian church.
"That was my little bit to spread the Gospel out to the remote corners," Jeffrey Fowle said.
Fowle said he knew leaving the Korean-language Bible in the nightclub was a risk but he "felt compelled to do it to aid the underground church in some small way."
Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. The 56-year-old married father of three returned home last week after negotiations involving retired diplomat and former Ohio Congressman Tony Hall.
In an interview Friday, Fowle said he went to North Korea to experience the country and that spreading the Gospel was a secondary motivation.
"In general, I like those out-of-the-way places," he said.
Fowle said he left the Bible - with his name in it - under a trash bin at a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjinin and hoped a Christian would find it.
Instead, he was detained after North Korean officials discovered it.
"Knowing what I know now and the risk I was taking ... I wouldn't do it again," Fowle said. "If I'd had a long prison term the family might have fallen apart."
Fowle said he will be glad to return to his job with the city of Moraine, a Dayton suburb. The city agreed to give him his street department job back but said risky travel in the future would result in his firing.
U.S. officials are trying to win the release of two other Americans who are being held in North Korea, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae. Fowle said he had had no contact with Miller or Bae.