North Korea Detains US Citizen 04/23 09:58
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- North Korea has detained a U.S. citizen,
officials said Sunday, bringing to three the number of Americans now being held
Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name Kim Sang-duk, was detained on
Saturday, according to Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of the Pyongyang University
of Science and Technology.
Park said Kim, who is 58, taught accounting at the university for about a
month. He said Kim was detained by officials as he was trying to leave the
country from Pyongyang's international airport. A university spokesman said he
was trying to leave with his wife on a flight to China.
The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang said it was aware of a Korean-American
citizen being detained recently, but could not comment further. The embassy
looks after consular affairs for the United States in North Korea because the
two countries do not have diplomatic relations.
The State Department said it was aware of the report about a U.S. citizen
being detained, but declined further comment "due to privacy considerations."
Park said Kim had taught at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology
in China before coming to Pyongyang. He said he was informed that the detention
had "nothing to do" with Kim's work at the university but did not know further
As of Sunday night, North Korea's official media had not reported on the
The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is the only privately
funded university in North Korea. It held its first classes in 2010. It is
unique in the North for its large number of foreign staff.
Colin McCulloch, the director of external affairs, said the university was
not under investigation and was continuing its normal operations. He said he
could not immediately confirm Kim's hometown.
Though no details on why Kim was detained have been released, the detention
comes at a time of unusually heightened tensions between the U.S. and North
Korea. Both countries have recently been trading threats of war and having
another American in jail will likely up the ante even further.
Last year, Otto Warmbier, then a 21-year-old University of Virginia student
from suburban Cincinnati, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison
after he confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner.
Kim Dong Chul, who was born in South Korea but is also believed to have U.S.
citizenship, is serving a sentence of 10 years for espionage.
Another foreigner, a Canadian pastor, is also being detained in North Korea.
Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian citizen in his 60s, was convicted
and sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on charges of trying to use religion to
destroy the North Korean system and helping U.S. and South Korean authorities
lure and abduct North Korean citizens.