An American detainee held in North Korea has confessed to spying on the communist regime, according to a press conference broadcast Friday on North Korean state television.
The detainee is Kim Dong-chul, and he stated that he was taken into custody last October while working in a special economic zone in North Korea. Although Dong-chul was born in South Korea, he was a naturalized citizen of the United States and resided in Fairfax, Virginia, until recently.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Dong-chul moved to Yangji, China, in 2001. Yangji is located on the Chinese-North Korean border, and the expatriate American citizen commuted daily to a job located in Rason, which is a special economic zone across the border in North Korea.
CBS News reports that the detainee confessed to espionage at the press conference, saying that he received “a USB and documents, which contained nuclear secrets and details regarding the internal situation of this country, from a person I bribed.”
During the broadcast, Dong-chul promised that if he is released from North Korean custody he will, “wage a campaign to make the world know good things about this country.”
— LIM Yun Suk (@yunsukCNA) March 25, 2016
The Washington Post reports that the confession was likely pre-vetted, or even written, by North Korean authorities prior to the press conference. Former detainees who have later been released have described pressure and coercion techniques used by North Korea to elicit such confessions.
According to the Washington Post, one former detainee was told by his minder to “put some emotion into it” and to “emphasize your desperation for wanting to get home.” He later forgot the talking points he was provided and his off-camera minder had to prompt him.
Another former detainee reported a “long and grueling investigation” after he left Korean-language pamphlets about Christianity at a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang. According to that detainee, his confession was elicited by “Two-hour sessions each morning, which were repeated again in the afternoons.”
According to CBS News, the U.S. State Department refused to comment on Dong-chul’s situation when news of his detention became public in January, and has remained silent on the matter ever since. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has also refused to comment, according to the Washington Post.
Although little is known about Kim Dong-chul, CNN and Voice of America’s Korean-language service have provided some corroborating evidence that he is who the North Koreans say he is. CNN was able to view the detainee’s passport during an interview last January, and it showed that he was born in South Korea in 1953.
Voice of America reports that Dong-chul left South Korea for the United States in the 1980s and lived in Fairfax, Virginia. Voice of America spoke to Fairfax-area pastor Simon Park, who stated that Dong-chul was married, but when his marriage ended, he left the United States and moved to Yangji, China.
Although this is the latest example of North Korea broadcasting a detainee confession of espionage or subversion, the Washington Post reports that Pyongyang is also currently detaining three South Koreans and a Canadian pastor.
The confession also comes less than two weeks after North Korean authorities sentenced an American citizen to 15 years imprisonment, as previously reported by Inquisitr. Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old college student from Ohio, is set to serve 15 years of hard labor after allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda banner.
Although the U.S. State Department has not yet commented on Kim Dong-chul’s case, the Obama administration immediately demanded that Pyongyang pardon and release Warmbier.
Do you think that Dong-chul actually engaged in espionage while working in the Rason special economic zone, or is this just another example of North Korea eliciting a forced confession from a detainee?
[Photo by AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon]