Amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, authorities in Pyongyang, North Korea, arrested a U.S. citizen at Sunan International Airport as he attempted to board a flight to China on Friday.
In the most recent case of an American being held in the hermit kingdom, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has identified the detainee as Tony Kim, a 58-year-old Korean-American faculty member at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in neighboring China.
Although details are unclear, and South Korean officials could not confirm the report, Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang authenticated reports of Kim’s arrest, but declined to comment on the matter further. Sweden represents U.S. consular matters with North Korea.
Kim, also know as Kim Sang-duk, was reportedly on a temporary teaching assignment with Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). It is believed he was teaching an accounting class at the university.
Following Kim’s arrest, the university released a statement Kim had been taken into custody, but his detainment was “related to an investigation into matters that are not connected in any way to PUST.”
“The cause of his arrest is not known but some officials at PUST told me his arrest was not related to his work at PUST. He had been involved with some other activities outside PUST such as helping an orphanage,” said PUST chancellor, Chan-Mo Park.
Kim joins two other Americans and a fourth Canadian man jailed in North Korea.
In 2016, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student, Otto Warmbier, was sentenced to 15-years imprisonment after he “confessed” to the attempted theft of a propaganda banner from his hotel. Similarly, Kim Dong-chul, also an American citizen, was sentenced to 10 years on the charge of espionage.
In addition to the three Americans, a Canadian, Reverend Hyeon Soo-lim, who represents the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, has not been heard from since his arrest in January 2015. Hyeon, born in South Korea, had been invited to North Korea and had led a Christian mission assisting the elderly and orphans.
[Reuters] [AP] [Photo courtesy AFP via Daily Mail]