Another U.S. citizen held up in Pyongyang

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Another U.S. citizen held up in Pyongyang

An American detained in North Korea said he had spied against the country and asked for forgiveness at a media presentation Friday, nine days after a U.S. tourist was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion. Kim Tong Chol told a press conference in Pyongyang that he had collaborated with and spied for South Korean intelligence authorities in a plot to bring down the North’s leadership and tried to spread religious ideas among North Koreans.

Describing his acts as “shameful and ineffaceable,” Kim, who was born in South Korea and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen, said he feels sorry for his crime and appealed to North Korean authorities to show him mercy by forgiving him.

In an interview with CNN in January, Kim said he lived in Fairfax, Virginia, before moving in 2011 to Yangji, a city near the Chinese-North Korean border. He said he commuted daily to Rason, a special economic zone in North Korea, where he was president of a trade and hotel services company.

He said during the Pyongyang press conference that he was detained in Rason last October.

North Korean authorities often arrange press conferences for U.S. and other foreign detainees in which they read statements to acknowledge their wrongdoing and praise the North’s political system. Those detainees have said after their releases that they were coached or coerced on what to say.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said Kim’s case wasn’t related to the organization in any way and offered no further comment. AP

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