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North Korea: U.S. citizen admits to spying on Pyongyang

Kim Dong Chul, identified as American, admitted to spying for Seoul intelligence, according to KCNA.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea stated on Friday a U.S. citizen is being held on spying charges, less than two weeks after sentencing a U.S. college student to 15 years in prison with hard labor. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock
North Korea stated on Friday a U.S. citizen is being held on spying charges, less than two weeks after sentencing a U.S. college student to 15 years in prison with hard labor. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

SEOUL, March 25 (UPI) -- A man North Korea established as a U.S. citizen in January said Friday he had been spying on Pyongyang.

Kim Dong Chul, who was identified as a former resident of Fairfax, Va., admitted to allegations of spying on behalf of South Korea intelligence, Yonhap reported.

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North Korea's state news agency KCNA announced Kim "received instructions from South Korea intelligence," and that Kim "systematically collected classified information on North Korea's party, state and military, then handed the intelligence" over to the South.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea are already high. Less than two weeks ago, Pyongyang sentenced U.S. student Otto Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for taking down a political slogan at the hotel where he was staying.

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Kim was brought before reporters and also stated he had tried to disseminate "religious" ideas, The Washington Post reported.

Kim appeared before his audience donning a blue suit and accompanied by North Korean security guards. In a scripted appeal, Kim said his acts were "unpardonable" while pleading for mercy, according to KCNA.

During his appeal, Kim said the South requested information on North Korean economic reform, living conditions of ordinary North Koreans, documents on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and the status of a special economic zone in Rason, North Korea.

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Kim listed names of South Korean government officials, academics and journalists who had requested the intelligence, according to Yonhap.

Kim said he was also asked to collect information on the Kaesong Industrial Complex that Seoul could use against the North.

The captive said during his period of detention he has not suffered any ill treatment, torture or human rights abuses.

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In an interview with CNN in January, Kim had said he was arrested October 2015 because he was spying on behalf of "South Korean conservative elements."

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