SEOUL, May 4 (UPI) -- A man being held in North Korea has been identified as a South Korean NYU student – more than a month after North Korea detained two other South Korean citizens.
Joo Won-moon, a 22-year-old student at New York University, was identified as a South Korean national and U.S. green card holder, reported The Los Angeles Times. Joo was apprehended in April, according to KCNA, as he tried to illegally cross the Yalu River from Dandong, China.
Yonhap reported that Joo's parents believed he was leaving for China on holiday and did not know he was being held captive – until a friend told them of the breaking news.
Joo was a junior at NYU's Stern School of Business who was not registered for classes in the spring semester. In 2013, he wrote on an online forum he was interested in computer science and engineering. Recently, he stopped seeing his friends regularly, but it was not clear why Joo chose not to attend classes.
The day after North Korea announced they had detained Joo, CNN interviewed two South Korean captives in Pyongyang – under the watchful eyes of North Korea minders.
The two prisoners, Kim Kuk-gi and Choe Chun-gil, said they were caught for spying on behalf of Seoul's National Intelligence Service.
A South Korean official said Sunday the North Korea allegations are "groundless."
Kim and Choe were interviewed separately but both agreed with Pyongyang's claims. They said they were not told what to say and South Korean intelligence officials approached them in China to obtain North Korea materials.
Kim said he was a financially struggling missionary in northern China when South Korean intelligence hired him to obtain information that included travel itineraries of North Korea leaders to foreign countries – and copies of the new North Korean currency.
Kim said that over the course of nine years, South Korean intelligence paid him $500,000 for the information he gathered.
Choe said he worked as a South Korean spy in China for three years to procure military intelligence. During the interview, Choe held back tears as he said he had family in China and South Korea.
He apologized to his family for getting in trouble.
In previous cases, North Korea has forced detainees to deliver fabricated apologies.