North Korea Detains Another U.S. Citizen


The North Korean government has detained another U.S. citizen, bringing the total number of Americans detained in North Korea to three.

The latest American to be detained is Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name Kim Sang-duk, said Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, according to ABC News.

Kim, 58, taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for about a month. Park said Kim was detained by officials while he was trying to leave the country out of Pyongyang's international airport and was headed towards China, where he was to meet his wife.

The reasons for Kim's detainment has not yet been released.

"The university said Kim's detention had nothing to do with his academic work. So far, North Korea has remained silent about Kim's detention,″ NPR reporter Anthony Kuhn notes.

The U.S. Department of State said it was aware of Kim's detainment, but will not release any explanation "due to privacy considerations," ABC News reports.

The North Korean government has recently sentenced two U.S. citizens to prison.

In 2016, then-21-year-old Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student from Ohio, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison for attempting to steal a propaganda banner.

And Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born American citizen, is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage.

The latest detainment comes at a time when tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are high due to the latter's insistence on testing its nuclear arsenal.

President Donald Trump has called for tougher sanctions on the North Korean government.

"The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable," Trump told a meeting of UN Security Council ambassadors at the White House, according to Reuters. "The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs.″

He added: "This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem and it's a problem that we have to finally solve. People put blindfolds on for decades and now it’s time to solve the problem.″

The North Korean government has been accused of holding Americans on questionable charges with threats of extraneous sentences to get diplomatic leverage with the U.S., The New York Times reports.

In 2014, American citizen Jeffrey E. Fowle, was arrested for leaving a Bible in a hotel, but was eventually released that year.

Also in 2014, Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to establish a secret proselytizing network.

Bae was freed in 2014 after then-Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, visited the country and negotiated his release.

Sources: ABC News, The New York Times, Reuters, NPR / Photo Credit: (stephan)/Flickr

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