Appearing in a government-arranged news conference in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-uk apologized for the "anti-state crime" he said was committed at the behest of South Korea's intelligence service, the New York Times reported.
Kim, a 50-year-old Baptist missionary, said he entered North Korea Oct. 7 carrying Bibles and other religious materials and was arrested the next day. He told reporters the South Korean National Intelligence Service had paid him several thousand dollars to collect information from North Korean refugees in China, where Kim had opened an underground church.
"I intended to change North Korea into a religious country and demolish the current North Korean government and political system," he said.
Pyongyang said in November it had arrested a South Korean spy, but had not identified him until the news conference.
Following Kim's statement, South Korea called for his immediate release and demanded he have access to a lawyer.
South Korean intelligence officials have denied a missionary was detained in the North while working as a spy.