Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Wife of American detained in North Korea pleads for his release

Wife of American detained in North Korea pleads for his release

North Korea has detained a USA citizen on suspicion of "hostile acts" against the regime, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday.

The arrest of a US citizen by North Korea on Saturday - the second of an American national in two weeks - could be a prelude to more provocations by Pyongyang amid already surging tensions on the Korean Peninsula, an expert on the regime of leader Kim Jong Un has said.

"During that visit, Mr Kim was at PUST to do agricultural development work with PUST's experimental farm", the statement reads.

A similar round of talks, also involving Choe, had been due to take place in the United States in March, but the North Korean delegation was denied US visas at the last moment after the killing of the half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the global airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, an assassination USA officials blamed squarely on Pyongyang.

Accounting professor Kim Sang-duk, or Tony Kim, also a USA citizen, was held on April 22, the North confirmed last week, for trying to "overturn" the regime.

Like Tony Kim, the university said Kim Hak Song was not detained because of his university work, but for other reasons.

Kim Mi-ok said her husband had been falsely accused.

Song said people who live in North Korea have realized, via the internet, that Kim's rule is oppressive.

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He added that Kim Hak Song was willing to fund some of his research out of his own pocket and criticized the North Koreans for "persecuting their savior, a person who came to help them". A naturalized American citizen who was born in South Korea, Kim Dong Chul is a businessman in his mid-60s who at one time lived in Fairfax, Virginia.

Both men are professors at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, one of the few schools to employ foreign professors in North Korea.

However, North Korea did carry out three ballistic missile tests last month in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, though two are believed to have failed.

"I hope everybody joins in resolving this issue as soon as possible", said Kim Mi Ok, the wife of agriculture researcher Kim Hak-song, who was arrested Saturday on suspicion of "hostile acts" against the North Korean government.

Analysts say North Korea often attempts to use foreign detainees to wrest outside concessions, which in the past have sometimes involved high-profile American missions sent to secure the release of detainees.

The Korean Central News Agency did not say whether the cases are connected, Bloomberg reported.

- American tourist Otto Warmbier was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion.

But Malaysian officials at the time banned the team from playing in Pyongyang, citing security fears, and the AFC chose to postpone the tie due to "escalating diplomatic tension".

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