Detained Americans in North Korea Head to Trial

Jeffrey Edward Fowle and Matthew Todd Miller are accused of committing “hostile acts.”
11:46 | 06/30/14

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Transcript for Detained Americans in North Korea Head to Trial
-- -- Tensions rising on the Korean Peninsula as South Koreans have been glued to news channels North Korea. Test firing another round of short range missiles today also reports that two Americans are detained in that isolated nation. Could be headed to trial. -- the international hot spot is North Korea. Devin -- New York to Americans detained a few months ago when a group -- -- North Korea now facing trial for quote hostile acts. 56 year old Jeffrey -- 24 year old Matthew Miller entered North Korea and two separate groups -- worst. Hostile acts that they are accused -- include shouting at the airport and -- a Bible in a hotel room. North Korea is now reportedly trying to force a confession from them but that might actually be good. For the detainees. More for more on all of this we're joined now by the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Chang in Seoul South Korea Jonathan. Very early in the morning -- thank you for being here let's start with these men and the charges. Who are they what were they -- in North Korea. Well. Usually -- Matthew Miller as the others 56 year old man from Ohio named Jeffrey Howell. Attitude I don't know each other as far as we know people -- Freest at least. A lot of Americans going to North Korea these days and by a lot of need a few 1010 and these are two million fortunate ones are supposed. Allen -- Matthew Miller case he -- and beer work. And according to both North Korea's state media as well as his war organizer. Which is based in in New Jersey -- Are consistent in this and that he ran into ripped up his views -- wasn't -- according to the North Korea's be needy he wanted asylum some sort. And you know you want to be North Korea he got his wish and certainly he's been there now or. Or her or over among -- almost two months by Jeffrey -- -- they don't group tours. And we don't know exactly what it is where there's one report that says that it may have been a -- that was well I in his were tolerant and into. I'm Stanley. Hasn't been anything about it no we haven't been able to confirm independently in -- his. Apparently he has been saying he wasn't a missionary warrants. Trying to proselytize although. You want an avid churchgoers -- all around it it's not quite clear in April have been happening custody now or more than a month in Korea. We're also hearing. Didn't tell us your reporting too -- to create officials may be looking for a confession from both of these men on each of the separate. Charges here but that back could be perhaps a good thing is they could be released. Right well if you look at. Previous accidents you don't look too far in December there was an 85 year old man in Merrill -- from. California who was detained in North Korea also doing a tour in his case -- -- -- Korean War vet fighting for the US and North Korea is technically still in a state of war around going back to 1950s. So it'd take kindly to the fact that he was talking about his war experience. Now being taught -- to constantly custody and he ended up having to -- confession. And that was broadcast of videotapes now. In the end user and it was a course. Statements and it's hard not to believe him because. And it was really -- clearly written by native speaker. So many TTP investment he left in March we have an Australian missionary. Who is heading apparently he's right upright and know what you're doing. But yet you do the same thing as well he basically. Signing confessions. And they found him guilty and that was baton they got -- -- -- and now perhaps that's what we're seeing here to becomes. Understatement that we -- from being media basically says that these guys are guilty there's not really -- trial in the hands. Pound a week into the trial there's no lawyer they're not really can't even be able to defend themselves and begins just a matter of them. Saying yes we're guilty. I think whenever -- need to be signed and then getting out of there. What are you hearing Jonathan from US officials -- -- does this created diplomatic challenge for them to try to come in and in get these men. Home. Have they responded to these two cases that all. Well it's typical. Situation because the US doesn't have diplomatic relations with North Korea so. Anytime something like this happens. US has two world in Sweden which represents the US diplomatic interest -- North Korea. But air delivered -- limited because of course Korea and and Washington don't get along very well. Alan -- in addition to that you that -- are going to be standing trial there's a third American tenant BE is create American youth missionary and a network operator you're going -- -- North Korea for many years. And we don't know entirely what the circumstances of his keys are but he's now been there for almost two years so tolerant. The options are limited and and asked me no problem going back a little brother -- don't create hasn't passed. Want to see somebody -- prestigious song -- Bill Clinton following Jimmy Carter. Go and and rescued -- there's no sign in my -- is gonna happen in this case. Allen and ultimately North Korea doesn't really answer us when we asked and precautions or doesn't do the same with the State Department either so I think -- -- just a matter -- just a week and seen what happens here. I think for so many of us watching this unfold certainly the case -- Kenneth they which has been going on now for some time. I mean I find myself asking if it's so dangerous to go there and these are kind of repeated cases they continue to pop up of people being detained there. Why are tour groups bill going there -- are so many Americans are going to North Korea. Austrian and outlook between agencies that bring western -- since North Korea. Their actions and cottage industry but -- growing quickly because. North Korea is trying to build more hotel they're trying to bring in. And tourists because -- need the hard currency. And to be right there a lot of Americans -- I asked Americans or brits Australians and people from all retired especially. But happy to -- and the reason is simple it is exactly this whenever there's an incident that happened to North Korea. Are you gonna have a lot of people who say why would anyone -- to North Korea when you get another sometimes people who say. Now that sounds exotic bets on screen you have to be dangerous and that the sort of thing that yields to a certain contract. -- so out. There may not be a lot of people that go but there are several thousand that you -- every year. And for everyone got better and doesn't go there are risks of course whether it be. Are related to the Korean War whether it be related to christianity whether -- -- -- I can gamely and doing anything that can be seen as distracting them -- and -- broad range. Things including all the newspaper a little picture on and there are also -- rules -- likeness and do you breakdown you can find yourself in. Some degree of trouble and I don't suppose that it was a small thing in either of these men's cases we just don't know. Precisely what it is we may not know the story until he can't help themselves. Jonathan before we let you go wanna talk about a different topic these short range missiles that were fired over the weekend by by North Korea certainly. Some -- that -- concern in South Korea. Has this become just routine now we do see these from time to time or is there still a real sense of panic there in -- Well actually didn't want the closer you can -- sometimes the last panic there isn't -- -- it's hard to get people to seek out about this because. Here people have been dealing with North Korea doing things -- -- the last sixty years. The danger actually though is -- North Korea really does appear to be near the finish line however you wanted to find that now we certainly know that in terms of the nuclear capability is there a lot closer than we likened to being. And when it comes to being able to now bet on a missile that they can -- -- in Jakarta mentally they're not too far and I -- their money can combine the technologies then things start to get a little scarier so. Now yes you're right that this has now become routine and North Korea instead that this is this year they're going to be a lot of progress. Now with missiles and it appears that -- -- claims to -- -- they are -- some problems here so. I would agree little little points on the line is that yes and this happens a lot but we -- nearing a critical stage here and now the other point to note here is that the Chinese president -- -- Now traditionally China and North Korea -- the closest they've been historic allies. And the Chinese president I'll always actually always had gone to Pyongyang or going to Seoul. -- this is the first -- that this is going to be flips out when she didn't being land console -- yet been to North Korea. But he will be in South Korea. And a lot of people wondering whether or not congress on -- be used a rocket and a lot is here are. I shall frustration -- North Korea's behalf. I'm being so -- China -- and just trying to -- can say hey we're here to land in the case and certainly got a lot of people's attention here. -- interest in its service certainly China has been a big benefactor of north Koreans. But to continue on the American mind interest -- twist before we let you go on in this you know whole debate with North Korea is in new movie that's coming out in the states the plot of the film. It involves the assassination of Kim Jong -- Obviously something that would. Could stir some reaction there what have you been hearing -- from how the north Koreans have been taking us. Well there honestly not happy about it and we honor Lincoln's clintons followed you don't kill Elizabeth Elizabeth hill -- Hollywood movies. And then of course he inadvertently start in his own movie into -- in 2004. Anyway most interesting is that a film like this it intends to be the sort of cultural artifact that -- a lot of people's views all. Now own all how -- country is and how to wrong. And in that respect that you really curious to see how this movie exactly the size portrait in many -- some hits and you watched the trailer. It's obviously meant to be parody and to be serious documentary or series treatment. The issue but even so -- the sort of English a lot of perceptions. And I think that's something that people haven't quite -- obviously not -- not happy about this they're now. Legal way our audience -- -- to stop Americans from being distributed back in 2000 or -- I wonder it and try to do the same this time around with their allies don't know. We know that their allies are fewer and fewer so we'll have to see I don't know what could possibly do to -- it from happening I don't suppose that's. That has so Grogan Nara and James Franco organ -- silly -- to -- and actually going North Korea and got probably Buchanan -- -- -- But sounds public -- and see exactly what comes of this and whether or not there's something. I'll bet can be done either to -- to stop is about to North -- been trying to do. All right maybe for the sequel they can now take a trip up there to the north -- All right Aaron the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan -- Jonathan thank you so much sleep they -- in Seoul South Korea we appreciate -- being very much thank you. After the latest on this story you can follow us by downloading the ABC news zapping starring the store for exclusive updates on the go marching international hot spot on Devin -- New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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