An American citizen has been taken into custody on suspicion of “hostile acts” against the North Korean government, officials said Sunday.
“A relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Kim Hak Song on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspension of his hostile acts against it,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. DPRK is an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“A relevant institution is now conducting a detailed investigation into his crimes,” the Agency added.
An employee of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Kim is the fourth American citizen to be held by the North Korean regime, and the second to be detained in just two weeks.
Another U.S. citizen, Kim Sang Duk, also known as “Tony Kim,” was arrested on Apr. 22 at Pyongyang Airport under suspicion of similar charges, “committing criminal acts of hostility” against the regime.
Tony Kim was also employed at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and taught in the Business Administration Department at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology, located in China.
Perhaps related to his arrest, Kim had been involved in humanitarian relief work both within and outside of the country, the Director of International Academic Affairs, Norma H. Nichols, told NK News.
Both arrests occurred amid heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea over a series of missile tests carried out by the North Korean government.
Two other Americans are currently being held by the North Koreans, Otto Warmbier, 22, and Kim Dong-chul, 66, both of whom were sentenced to 10 and 15 years of hard labor on charges of theft and espionage, respectively.
The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the detention, and will work on the case through the Swedish embassy in the North Koran capital, Pyongyang.
“The security of U.S. citizens is one of the department’s highest priorities,” a State Department official told Reuters in an emailed statement on Sunday. “When a U.S. citizen is reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang.”
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