North Korea broke its silence on the late April detention of U.S. citizen Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, in a report on Wednesday in which state media accused Kim of “committing criminal acts of hostility”.
In the report published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim’s behavior was alleged to have “aimed to overturn the DPRK”, though no details were given about the specifics of his actions.
Kim, who was a professor at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST) in Yanji, China, and was a regular visitor to North Korea to teach at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), had committed the alleged crimes “not only in the past but also during his last stay.”
“A relevant institution” detained Kim at Pyongyang International Airport at 8:00 on Saturday, April 22. He is now being held while a “detailed investigation” into his crimes is carried out.
Kim’s detention was confirmed to NK News on April 23, when Chancellor of PUST Chan-Mo Park confirmed reports by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that a U.S. citizen had been detained by North Korean authorities at Pyongyang Airport.
“From what I heard, he is being investigated for the matters that are not tied to the PUST,” Park said in an email at the time.
Tony Kim taught in the Business Administration Department of both YUST and PUST, Norma H. Nichols, Director of International Academic Affairs at the Pyongyang-based school told NK News after news of his arrest was made public.
“He has been very actively involved with humanitarian aid and relief,” she said. “He has made occasional trips in and out of northeastern North Korea, sometimes to help others who were wanting to visit the country.”
“Anyone who has done that knows how easy it would be to be misquoted or to have an innocent action regarded as a bad one,” she added. “One can only guess that it was one of those times that triggered this unfortunate time for Dr. Kim.”
Kim joins two other U.S. citizens in detention in North Korea: 22-year-old Otto Warmbier and 62-year-old Kim Dong-chul, both of whom are serving sentences of hard labor of 15 and 10 years respectively.
Warmbier was detained and sentenced for attempting to steal a poster from a room in the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang in January last year. Kim was sentenced in October 2015 for espionage.
Featured image: Tony Kim’s Facebook
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