News / USA

    CNN: N. Korea Reveals Alleged US Prisoner

    A man claiming to be an American told CNN he's being held in North Korea.
    A man claiming to be an American told CNN he's being held in North Korea.
    VOA News

    A man claiming to be a naturalized American who spied on behalf of “South Korean conservative elements” is being held by North Korea and is seeking U.S. or South Korean help to obtain his release, CNN reported Monday.

    Kim Dong Chul, 62, told the news network he was arrested in October and held for spying for South Korea. Pyongyang officials granted the news network an interview with Kim, who previously had lived in the Washington suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, after guards escorted him into a hotel room in the capital city.

    The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said it was aware of the CNN report but did not have further comment. If the CNN report is confirmed, Kim would be the first American to be detained since the North released three U.S. citizens in 2014, and would be the second Western citizen known to be held currently in North Korea.

    The other is Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, who was sentenced last month to life at hard labor in a North Korean prison. In a separate CNN interview broadcast Sunday, Lim said he spends eight hours a day, six days a week, digging holes in an apple orchard.

    "I wasn't originally a laborer, so the labor was hard at first," Lim said in Korean through an interpreter. "But now I've gotten used to it."

    Claims of spying

    As for the alleged American, Kim speaks and understands English, but North Korea required that he speak in Korean for the CNN interview at the Pyongyang hotel. An official translator was provided.

    Kim told CNN that since 2001 he had lived since 2001 in Yanji, a city near the border with China, and spied on behalf of "South Korean conservative elements." He said, "I was tasked with taking photos of military secrets and scandalous scenes."

    Kim said in the interview that a number of South Koreans "asked me to help destroy the [North's] system and spread propaganda against the government."

    Kim's claims were made in the presence of North Korean officials, CNN reported, noting it was unable to determine if they were made under duress.

    The network reported that Kim was being held at a Pyongyang hotel, as is the case with foreigners who have not been formally charged, and was in good health.

    The interviews were conducted amid rising tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang, given North Korea's claim to have tested a hydrogen bomb January 6.

    Subversion charge

    Lim, the Canadian man charged with attempting to overthrow the North's government, also told CNN that he is being held in a labor camp with apparently no other prisoners.

    Lim was detained early in 2015 while on what his church said was a humanitarian mission to a nursing home and orphanage that he had established in North Korea.

    At his sentencing last month, North Korea said he had admitted all charges against him, including "viciously defaming" the North Korean system and its leader, and plotting to overthrow the state.

    The South Korean-born Lim, who was 60 when he was arrested, is the head pastor at the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, one of Canada's largest churches.

    He appeared on North Korean state television in July and confessed to crimes against the state.

    "I admit I’ve violated this government's authority, system and order," Lim said in the interview. Asked if his biggest crime was speaking badly of the North's leaders, he said: "Yes, I think so."

    Other foreigners who have been detained in North Korea and later released have said they were forced to make similar statements.

    Describes conditions

    In the CNN interview, Lim said he receives three meals a day and regular medical attention; his church has said Lim has "very high blood pressure."

    He told the CNN interviewer that he has asked for a Bible, as yet not received, and that he prays every day that North and South Korea become unified.

    Canada has protested the "unduly harsh" sentence and complained that consular officials had been denied access to Lim.

     

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora