U.S. cit­i­zen de­tained in North Korea af­ter at­tempt to leave.

Man iden­ti­fied as vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY CARLO MUÑOZ

A U.S. cit­i­zen has been de­tained by North Korean au­thor­i­ties af­ter at­tempt­ing to leave the coun­try, the State Depart­ment con­firmed Sun­day.

Cit­ing “pri­vacy con­sid­er­a­tions,” depart­ment of­fi­cials de­clined to iden­tify the in­di­vid­ual cur­rently in cus­tody, but Reuters iden­ti­fied the man as Tony Kim, a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at the Py­ongyang Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy. North Korean of­fi­cials have yet to ac­knowl­edge the de­ten­tion of Mr. Kim or of any other Amer­i­can cit­i­zen.

Mr. Kim was ques­tioned and then placed into cus­tody as he was at­tempt­ing to board an in­ter­na­tional flight from Py­ongyang In­ter­na­tional Air­port, lo­cal re­ports say.

Univer­sity of­fi­cials told the As­so­ci­ated Press that the 58-year old pro­fes­sor, who’s Korean name is Kim Sang-duk, was at­tempt­ing to board a flight with his wife to China at the time of his ap­pre­hen­sion.

“We are aware of re­ports that a U.S. cit­i­zen was de­tained in North Korea,” the State Depart­ment of­fi­cial said, in a terse state­ment con­firm­ing Mr. Kim’s de­ten­tion. Amer­i­can diplo­mats are cur­rently work­ing backchan­nels through the Swedish em­bassy to ne­go­ti­ate Mr. Kim’s re­lease, the of­fi­cial said.

Of­fi­cials from the Swedish em­bassy in Py­ongyang con­firmed to AP that a U.S. cit­i­zen was be­ing held by North Korean of­fi­cials, but de­clined to pro­vide de­tails.

Mr. Kim is the third Amer­i­can to be de­tained by the com­mu­nist regime in two years.

A Univer­sity of Virginia stu­dent, Otto Warm­bier, was sen­tenced to a 15-year prison term af­ter con­fess­ing to at­tempt­ing to steal a pro­pa­ganda poster dur­ing a visit to the coun­try in 2016.

South Korean na­tional Kim Dong Chul is cur­rently serv­ing a 10-year sen­tence af­ter be­ing con­victed on es­pi­onage charges.

Mr. Chul is also be­lieved to hold dual cit­i­zen­ship with the U.S.

Mr. Kim’s de­ten­tion come a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult time, with ten­sions be­tween Washington and Py­ongyang at a re­cent high.

Last week, De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis slammed North Korea’s most re­cent at­tempt to test launch a nu­clear weapon as an­other “reck­less act” by Py­ongyang to fur­ther ratchet up ten­sions in the Pa­cific.

The White House an­nounced that the air­craft-car­rier bat­tle group led by the U.S.S. Carl Vin­son had its mis­sion in the Pa­cific ex­tended by 30 days, to give it time to de­ploy to in­ter­na­tional wa­ters off the Korean penin­sula.

The April 15 bal­lis­tic mis­sile, in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 105th birthday of North Korean found­ing fa­ther Kim Il Sung, failed “al­most im­me­di­ately,” of­fi­cials track­ing the launch at U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand said at the time.

Cur­rent North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un has typ­i­cally con­ducted tests of mid to long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles in com­mem­o­ra­tion of such events.

De­spite its fail­ure, the mis­sile launch was the lat­est vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions against Py­ongyang’s weapons pro­grams.

Pres­i­dent Trump has said Py­ongyang “is look­ing for trou­ble” via Twit­ter ear­lier this month, adding that if China would not in­ter­vene “we will solve the prob­lem with­out them!”

The regime fired back, say­ing North Korea “will hold the U.S. wholly ac­count­able for the cat­a­strophic con­se­quences to be en­tailed by its out­ra­geous ac­tions,” a for­eign min­istry spokesman told the state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency.

Py­ongyang stands “ready to re­act to any mode of war de­sired by the U.S.,” the spokesman added at the time.

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