A U.S. citizen who was detained in North Korea last month is accused of “hostile acts” aimed at overthrowing the regime, state-run media reported on Tuesday, the first time it acknowledged the man’s arrest.
A brief article from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Sang Duk “Tony” Kim was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport at 8 a.m. on April 22. The arrest took place as Kim tried to leave the country.
“He was intercepted for committing criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn the DPRK not only in the past but also during his last stay before interception,” the news agency said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The article added that Kim remains in custody while an investigation is carried out. Details about the allegations have not been released.
Kim is a professor at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST) in China but spent several weeks in North Korea to teach accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science & Technology (PUST), which is largely funded by the West.
The Pyongyang University of Science & Technology said on April 23 that the allegations are unrelated to Kim’s work and presence at the school. “We cannot comment on anything that Mr. Kim may be alleged to have done that is not related to his teaching work and not on the PUST campus,” the university said.
A total of three Americans are being held in North Korea, but Kim’s arrest followed weeks of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fueled by North Korea’s missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump.
American tourist Otto Warmbier is serving 15 years imprisonment with hard labor over the theft of a political propaganda poster in January 2016. And Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American businessman, is serving 10 years on espionage charges.
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