North Korea has revealed another detainee on the same day that Korean-Canadian pastor Lim Hyun-soo was interviewed by CNN.
Kim Dong-chul, a U.S. citizen originally from South Korea said he was arrested for espionage.
Kim said he was caught collecting information for “South Korean conservative elements” in order to “destroy North Korean system.”
“I was tasked with taking photos of military secrets and ‘scandalous’ scenes,” Kim told CNN reporter Will Ripley. This included information on the “nuclear program,” Kim added.
Kim said he moved between Yanji, China and the North Korean trade city of Rason, smuggling gathered materials to China via USB sticks and a camera.
A North Korean solider, arrested with Kim in last October, handed the materials to him.
“The soldier is somebody with access to a lot of information, including the document, photographs and USB drives,” an in-country source told NK News on condition of anonymity.
North Korea authorities directed Kim to answer in Korean, and his answers were translated by an official translator, possibly to monitor his responses.
Kim is known as a Christian, though he was not sent by any Christian organization.
“There are lots of ‘self-sustaining’ pastors preaching at the China-North Korea border area, funded by individuals. Kim is one of them,” a South Korean journalist, who has been reporting on North Korea for a long time, told NK News.
Kim called to the U.S. and South Korean governments for help.
One expert indicated that North Korea intends to use this for domestic politics, saying the U.S. has dispatched its officials to rescue its citizen, as in the case of Kenneth Bae.
“Considering the Party Congress in May, North Korea seems likely to propagate the U.S. official’s visit for their political interests,” Go Myong-hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute told NK News.
Go said the correlation between the nuclear test and espionage case is unlikely.
Seoul’s Ministry of Unification denied accusations that Kim worked for South Korean elements, including governmental bodies.
“As Kim is a U.S. citizen, we were not aware of this incident before the news,” an official from the ministry told NK News.