Korea detains another American over alleged hostile acts

The United States is aware of reports that a USA citizen was detained in North Korea and will work through the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang on the case, a State Department official said on Sunday.

In Washington, the State Department said it was aware of the report of the new detention and that "the security of USA citizens is one of the department's highest priorities".

Kim Hak Song, who was detained on May 6, worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the North Korea's KCNA news agency and the BBC reported.

"In the past, Pyongyang has demanded that Washington send high-level envoys to obtain the release of USA citizens detained in North Korea".

Two weeks ago the North arrested Tony Kim, a USA citizen and accounting professor who was lecturing at PUST, accusing him of trying to "overturn" the regime.

North Korea has detained another American who worked at a private university in Pyongyang, taking to four the number of USA citizens who are being held by Kim Jong Un's regime.

The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is the only privately funded university in North Korea and is unique for having a large number of foreign staff. Pyongyang detained the former for stealing a political poster.

Kim Sang-duk (Tony Kim), also a professor at PUST, was detained April 22 for alleged efforts to harm the North Korean state and bring down the regime. One is former Virginia man Kim Dong-chul, who had been living in the Chinese city of Yanji, near the border with North Korea, and working in a special economic zone in the North as head of a trade and hotel services company.

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The State Department advises Americans against traveling to North Korea, warning of "the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea's system of law enforcement".

Two months later, Kim Dong Chul was sentenced to 10 years hard labor for subversion.

It's a "fair assumption" that North Korea could be detaining US citizens as a diplomatic bargaining chip, Joseph DeTrani, who served as the State Department's special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, told NPR last week.

The detentions come at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea.

In 2016, North Korea sentenced Otto Warmbier, an American college student, to 15 years hard labor.

Some foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

Pyongyang is still investigating Kim's crimes, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

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