American Kim Dong-chul jailed in North Korea for spying

A Korean born American man, Kim Dong-chul, 62, has been sentenced to ten years in prison in North Korea for alleged espionage and subversion.

Kim’s arrest comes just a couple of months after American college student Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea for “anti-state activities”.

In his broadcast confession last month, Kim admitted on state television to passing information to South Korean intelligence agencies.

“The accused confessed to all crimes he had committed to overthrow the social system of the DPRK while viciously slandering the dignity of its supreme leadership and its political system and gathered and offered information on its party, state and military affairs to the south Korean puppet regime, which are tantamount to state subversive plots and espionages,” the state-run agency said.

State prosecutors originally asked that Kim Dong-chul be sentenced to 15 years, but his sentenced was commuted to 10 based on his age and on “hopes he may repent for his faults”.

The U.S. State Department has said that it would not comment on Kim’s case as it could complicate negotiations with North Korea.

The North Korean government allege that Kim was arrested in the special economic zone of Rason with a USB stick containing nuclear secrets he intended to pass to the West.

In his confession, Kim said that he had been introduced to South Korean spies by American intelligence agents.

Forced public confessions are not uncommon in North Korea and Otto Warmbier was subjected to a similar ordeal during his broadcast confession and sentencing in March.