News / USA

    Defector: Korean-American Detained in N. Korea Was Pastor

    A Korean-American man, Kim Dong Chul, told CNN he's being detained in North Korea's capital for spying.
    A Korean-American man, Kim Dong Chul, told CNN he's being detained in North Korea's capital for spying.
    Reuters

    A Korean-American man who says he is being held in North Korea was a Christian pastor who had worked in China and the United States, a North Korean defector who met him and traveled with him in 2007 told Reuters.

    CNN reported on Monday from North Korea that it had been given access to a man claiming to be an American, who identified himself as Kim Dong Chul, and who said he had been arrested in North Korea on spying charges. He appealed for help from the United States or South Korea to rescue him.

    A U.S. State Department official declined to comment on the report about Kim, saying that speaking publicly about specific cases of detained Americans can complicate efforts to free them.

    If confirmed, Kim, who CNN said was 60 and formerly of Fairfax, Virginia, would be the second Western citizen known to be held in North Korea. The other is Korean-Canadian.

    Kim would be the first American to be held by the North since it released three U.S. citizens in 2014.

    CNN was given access to both men this week, just days after isolated North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test. The test angered its main ally, China, as well as the United States.

    Missionary work

    A North Korean defector, Ma Young-ae, told Reuters on Tuesday that she had met Kim in the United States.

    "He told the churches that he was a missionary working on North Korea and sending stuff from China into the North to help poor North Koreans," Ma told Reuters by telephone, recalling Kim making speeches around California and Virginia in 2007 and seeking donations.

    Ma, who works as a missionary based in the New York area under what she said was security protection, described Kim as a Korean-American. "I was shocked to see his face on TV," she said.

    Kim told her he was sending medical aid into North Korea and going in and out of Rason, a North Korean special economic zone bordering China, she said.

    A photograph from a small Korean-American online publication showed a man it said was Kim talking at an unidentified church in the Washington, D.C., area, although Reuters cannot independently verify the picture.

    Ma said Kim had once asked her and her husband to come to China to work with him, but she had declined.

    Another pastor named Park Simon, who also accompanied Ma and Kim to several church gatherings in the United States, told Voice of America that Kim frequented North Korea and called him from Pyongyang about four years ago.

    Kim told CNN he had spied on behalf of "South Korean conservative elements" and had been arrested in October.

    Another foreign detainee

    The other foreigner known to be in detention in North Korea, and who CNN was also given access to, is Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian who was the head pastor at one of Canada's largest churches.

    Lim has been held by the North since February. Age 60 at the time of his arrest, he was given a life sentence of hard labor in December for attempting to overthrow the North's regime.

    North Korea, which is under heavy U.N. sanctions related to its nuclear and missile programs, has in the past used detained U.S. citizens to extract high-profile visits from the United States, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora