As has become its habit, North Korea announced Sunday it arrested a U.S. citizen on suspicion of committing “hostile acts” against Pyongyang on Saturday.
State-run news agency KCNA said Kim Hak-song, a U.S. citizen employed with Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a Christian institution, was apprehended on Saturday on the school’s campus. KCNA also stated: “A relevant institution is now conducting detailed investigation into his crimes.”
No further details were released by the North Korean government, which now holds four Americans in prison.
In Washington, State Department officials acknowledged reports of Kim’s arrest and announced contact with the North’s regime would be handled through Swedish envoys in Pyongyang. Sweden officially manages U.S.-North Korean relations.
This recent arrest runs concurrent with inflamed tensions on the Korean peninsula over North Korea’s hot rhetoric, ballistic-missile tests, and its nuclear program.
In response to a string of missile tests, some of which have reportedly failed, President Trump has ordered a naval group to the region and has pressed China to apply diplomatic pressure to help resolve the situation.
As recently as Friday, North Korea stated agents associated with U.S. and South Korean intelligence services were plotting the assassination of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un; two days later, North Korean newspapers ran articles forewarning of a nuclear attack on the White House.
Kim’s arrest follows the Wednesday announcement of charges leveled against Kim Sang Duk, also for “hostile acts” against the government. Arrested at Pyongyang International airport on April 22, Kim, like Kim Hak-song, was a faculty member at PUST.
In addition to Kim and Kim Sang Duk, University of Virginia student, Otto Warmbier, was arrested in 2016 for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel at which he was staying during a visit. Similarly, American businessman Kim Dong-chul was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to 10 years hard labor for “espionage.”
[BBC] [CNN] [Photo courtesy AFP/KCNA/KNS via Radio New Zealand]