A California man who was once a prisoner of North Korea and freed by former US President Jimmy Carter was found burning alive in a field. Last Friday, an off-duty officer found Gomes engulfed in flames in a dirt field near Fiesta Island around 11:30 p.m. The California Highway Patrol officer saw Gomes on fire and running before collapsing and dying.
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/2737c0dd810e1e679d293dcb88364746aab70e71ba1613cda34c0ccf4eb4d1c2.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Ahn Young-joon</span>
Aijalon Gomes was 30-years-old when he stepped across a frozen stretch of the Tumen River into North Korea and made headlines eight years ago. He was teaching English in South Korea when he may have entered North Korea in support of a Korean-American human rights activist. The North Korean soldiers on the other side weren't amused and sentenced him to eight years of hard labor and a $700,000 fine.
While in custody, Gomes tried to commit suicide several times and even slit his wrists and tried to starve himself before former U.S. President Jimmy Carter intervened to help negotiate his release. Jacqueline McCarthy is Gomes mother and she described how she wasn't even able to speak to her son. "I was praying each and every day. They would not let me talk to him," She said. "When he got off the plane, he got on his knees and was very thankful he was home."
After around seven months in North Korea, he was finally freed in August of 2010. Gomes later wrote a book about his experience where he reveals it was his faith and a "sense of universal equality" that moved him to cross the border into North Korea. The book's description hints at the torture he endured saying the book "graphically details the psychological torment of interrogation and confinement."
Authorities in San Diego do not believe his death was a homicide but rather an accident or a suicide. Knowing his past history of following urges that move him to do drastic things, such as his protest at the border of North Korea, perhaps Gomes felt motivated to set himself on fire in protest of something. The investigation is ongoing and the Medical Examiner's Office is working to determine the official cause of death.
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