Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN)Won-moon Joo, 21, smiled and seemed relaxed as he walked into a conference room at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang.
Our North Korean government minders informed us Monday night that we’d be interviewing Joo, a request we made on Saturday, just hours after arriving in the country.
CNN was given exclusive access to the South Korean citizen, who is a permanent resident of the United States and has been detained in North Korea since last month.
Joo was most recently living in New Jersey and studying at New York University. He took a semester off to travel across the United States and says he went to North Korea after an unsuccessful attempt to find work in California.
Joo didn’t seem alarmed that he could be facing serious charges and prison time for illegally entering North Korea through China.
“I’m willing to accept any punishment,” Joo says.