Andrew Welsh-Huggins

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 what he called the country’s underground Christian church.

Jeffrey Fowle said he traveled to the country as a tourist but saw the opportunity as a way to follow the Christian mission “to carry the Gospel to all corners of the oath.”

“I knew it was a risk, that I was taking a gamble, but I felt compelled to do that to aid the underground church in some small way,” Fowle said in an interview in his lawyer’s office.

“I felt once I left the Bible somewhere that God would take it the rest of the way into the hands of some kind of Christian organization, and I’d be able to waltz out of country fat, dumb and happy, no problem,” he said. “But God had other plans.”

Fowle, 56, arrived in North Korea on April 29. The married father of three returned home last week after negotiations involving retired diplomat and former Ohio congressman Tony Hall. Fowle, who conducted several interviews Friday about his detention, was relaxed and comfortable during a 45-minute interview.

He said he went to North Korea to experience the country and that spreading the Gospel was a secondary motivation. He was aware of warnings about travel to North Korea but went anyway, knowing that American tourists had gone and returned over the past decade.

Fowle, an equipment operator in the city of Moraine street department, said the city has warned him that risky travel in the future would result in his firing. Fowle said he agrees with the requirement and has no plans for missionary work in “closed countries” in the future.