PYONGYANG, Dpr. – North Korea’s state-run Central News Agency reported Friday that Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as ‘Joe the Plumber,’ was detained by a Korean People’s Army patrol as he tried to cross into North Korea from neighboring China.
The U.S. Department of State confirmed late last night that Mr. Wurzelbacher is being held in Pyongyang by North Korean authorities. “At this time the United States is working with the North Korean government to ensure Mr. Wurzelbacher’s safety,” a State Department spokesperson said Saturday.
In a televised statement released by the Korean Central News Agency, Mr. Wurzelbacher, who appeared comfortable and not under duress, said, “I have, by my own free will, made the decision to renounce my U.S. citizenship and defect to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” Mr. Wurzelbacher said he is “fed up” with life under the “quasi-socialist Obama regime” and wants to start a new life in the hermit kingdom. “I am a worker,” Wurzelbacher said. “My place is here with the Workers’ Party of Korea.”
The 41 year-old Toledo, Ohio native made national headlines in 2008 after he asked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama about his small business policy during a taped campaign stop. Following the exchange, the McCain-Palin campaign dubbed Wurzelbacher, a registered Republican, ‘Joe the Plumber.’
Tensions between North Korea and the West remain shaky at best following an annual full-scale military exercise carried out by the United States and South Korea last month. On September 8th, North Korea announced it plans to “launch a long-range missile” on October 10th to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its Workers’ Party.