North Korea's detention of USA citizen 'concerning': White House

Posted May 10, 2017

Kim Hak Song, who worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was detained as he tried to leave the country, according to the North Korean news agency, KCNA.

Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk, is a 58-year-old American citizen who was temporarily teaching an accounting course at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. "When a USA citizen is reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang", a State Department official noted in a statement to Reuters.

The arrest on Saturday of Kim Hak-song raises the number of USA citizens now held in North Korea to four.

The four American citizens held in the North also include college student Otto Warmbier and Korean-American pastor Kim Dong-Chul, who received lengthy jail terms for "crimes against the state" and spying, respectively.

In an interview with NBC News, James Kim said Kim Hak Song is a China-born father aged in his 50s who had spent about a decade living in the U.S.

"The United States should not entertain conversations with Kim Jong-un until he drops his military program and lives up to the promises that he has made over the last 20 years, but he has consistently broken", Gardner told Steffan Tubbs on Colorado's Morning News on KOA NewsRadio.

USA officials have said all options, including a military strike, are on the table in trying to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The detention of Kim Hak-Song means that the North is now holding four United States nationals, with the two countries at loggerheads over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile ambitions.

Diplomatic tensions escalated amid investigations into the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother in Kuala Lumpur.

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Some foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

Tensions between North Korea and its chief adversaries - the US and South Korea - have been rising over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, as well as joint U.S.

The University earlier issued brief statements on 23 April and 8 May in the wake of the detention of each of the two professors, confirming they were members of PUSTs faculty.

Sweden handles US consular affairs in North Korea, including those of American detainees.

"PUST is certainly going to be in the crosshairs for - let's say special attention - by the North Korean authorities because of that book", says Madden.

For decades, American administrations of both political parties have sought to use China's considerable leverage over North Korea to compel Pyongyang to moderate its behavior.

Seoul has said the dialogues are not related to South Korea policy.

He was living in China near the border with North Korea and working in a special economic zone in the largely isolated country as president of a trade and hospitality company. Right now, they seem more anxious about the potential collapse of the regime and doing hard things to the regime than about a nuclear North Korea.