North Korea has detained its’ fourth citizen of the United States. Kim Hak-song worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology and was held in North Korea on May 6, 2017. The news of the detainment was reported by North Korean state-run news agency, KCNA.
Currently, there are three other U.S. citizens who are being held in North Korea. Last month, the third detained citizen, Kim Sang-duck, had also taught at Pyongyang University, according to BBC News.
In the past, the United States has accused North Korea of detaining its citizens to use them as pawns.
KCNA said that “a relevant institution” was “conducting [a] detailed investigation” into the alleged crimes brought against Kim Hak-song. The North Korean news outlet provided no further details. A State Department official said Washington was “aware of reports that a US citizen was detained in North Korea.” The department added that they would meet with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang which helps look after U.S. interests in North Korea.
Kim Hak-song had previously described himself as a Christian missionary. An online post by the professor claimed he intended to start an experimental farm at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Reuters reported.
The university was built to teach the children of North Korea’s elite families. The children are all hand-picked by Kim Jong-un’s regime to receive a Western education, according to BBC News. Within the university, all of the classes are in English and many of teachers are American. These facts are astonishing considering North Korea has isolated itself from the outside world for decades and has publicly announced the United States as being its’ enemy.
It was founded in 2010 by a Korean-American Christian entrepreneur. Much of the cost of the University is funded by U.S. and South Korea Christian charities. In North Korea, there are several lecturers who are foreigners teaching at the university.
The fourth detainment of a U.S. citizen comes on the heels of North Korea threatening to strike United States aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, with one single strike. The newspaper likened the U.S. aircraft carrier to a “gross animal” and said a strike on the carrier would be “an actual example to show our military’s force.”
Pyongyang has threatened to carry out a new nuclear test against UN sanctions. North Korea maintains that their nuclear program was created for self-defense. The reclusive state has warned the United States of a nuclear attack in response to any aggression.
On Friday, North Korea accused U.S. and South Korean agents of plotting to kill its Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un. The U.S. and South Korean governments declined to comment on the allegations. Experts were quite skeptical about the claims.
U.S. Citizens Detained In North Korea
The other United States citizens detained in the DPRK are:
- Kim Sang-duck, a lecturer who taught at Pyongyang University and was detained in April for allegedly attempting to “overturn” the government. South Korean media said he was 55-years-old and had been involved in humanitarian work in the North.
- Kim Dong-chul, 62, who was sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor for spying last year.
- Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old student who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel.
The American professor was detained by officials as he was trying to leave North Korea from Pyongyang’s international airport on Saturday morning, according to ABC News. Tony Kim, 58, taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for about a month. Kim was trying to leave with his wife on a flight to China, a university spokesman stated.
Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean birth name, Kim Sang-duk, was detained in North Korea, according to Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, according to ABC News.
“He was prevented from getting on the flight out of Pyongyang… We don’t comment further than this.”
Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Korean origin, was arrested in October of 2015. North Korea sentenced him to 10 years of hard labor on espionage charges in 2016.
Otto Warmbier, 21, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained at Pyongyang airport on January 2 of 2016, after visiting the country with a tour group. After being found guilty of removing a political sign from a hotel wall, Warmbier has since been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, according to Aljazeera.
[Featured Image by David Guttenfelder/AP Images]