A Korean American in his late 50s is now the third U.S. citizen to be detained in North Korea after he was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport last week when attempting to leave the country.
Identified by his surname Kim, the detainee is reportedly a former professor at China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology. According to a report in The Hill, he had been involved in aid and relief programs to North Korea.
“We have been informed and can confirm that there has been a detention of a U.S. citizen Saturday morning,” said Martina Aberg, deputy head of missions for the Swedish Embassy in North Korea. “He was prevented from getting on the flight out of Pyongyang.”
According to Ahn Chan-il, director of the World North Korea Research Center in Seoul, the communist dictator Kim Jong-un “seems to be intending to use professor Kim as leverage in negotiations.”
Reports that the Russian military is moving troops to its border with North Korean sent South Korea on heightened alert Friday.
South Korean officials plan to meet with representatives from the United States and Japan this week to “discuss plans to rein in North Korea’s additional high-strength provocations, to maximize pressure on the North, and to ensure China’s constructive role in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue,” according to the foreign ministry in Seoul.
Joint military exercises between U.S. and Japanese forces are currently taking place in the Philippine Sea.
The two other U.S. citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea are Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student; and Kim Dong-chul, a Korean-American businessman. North Korea claims that the two committed “subversive acts.”
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