PYONGYANG, North Korea, March 27 (UPI) -- North Korea's state-controlled media claimed Thursday its government has apprehended two South Korean nationals and have charged them of espionage and anti-North Korea conspiracy.
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported television footage showed the accused presented before a North Korean press conference at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang.
North Korea's state security department said the two South Koreans, Kim Guk-gi and Choe Chun-gil, had previously approached ethnic Korean-Chinese, Chinese nationals and North Korea cross-border traders for sensitive information.
North Korea claimed the two individuals were "puppet secret agents" working in conjunction with the U.S. government.
"They are the most evil terrorists who plotted the assassination of leading members of the (North Korean) government," said North Korea's state security department.
Yonhap reported North Korea held a press conference in order to make the announcement – and to send a warning to North Koreans and Chinese nationals who could easily come into contact with South Koreans in China.
The two men were identified as South Korean nationals, but North Korean press claimed the two had been living in the Chinese border city of Dandong for more than a decade.
North Korean media said one of the two men, Kim Guk-gi, admitted he was guilty of providing sensitive North Korean information about the travel plans of North Korea's leader in 2010. Kim allegedly confessed he sent nuclear weapons data to South Korea and counterfeited North Korean money. Choe Chun-gil, the second South Korean charged of espionage, also admitted to creating fake U.S. currency.
The BBC reported North Korea commonly arrests foreigners such as South Korean and U.S. nationals in order to use them as bargaining chips to extract economic and other concessions.