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U.S. citizen sentenced to prison with hard labor in North Korea

Kim Dong Chul was spying on behalf of "South Korean puppets," according to Pyongyang.

By Elizabeth Shim
U.S. citizen sentenced to prison with hard labor in North Korea
U.S. citizen Kim Dong Chul was tried and convicted of spying and sending North Korean state secrets to the South. File Photo screenshot of KCTV

SEOUL, April 29 (UPI) -- A U.S. citizen was sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea.

Kim Dong Chul was tried and convicted of spying and transporting state secrets on a flash drive, Sky News reported.

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The trial was short, and the hearing marked the first time in a month Kim made a public appearance in Pyongyang.

"The accused, Kim Dong Chul, schemed to take down the highest dignity and political system of [North Korea]," Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA said in statement.

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"He has acknowledged that he engaged in a conspiracy to overthrow the government and in espionage by collecting [North Korea's] party, national and military secrets on behalf of the South Korean puppets."

Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Kim was depicted as injecting into local people "fantasies about the superiority of the United States, in order to shake the stability of the political and social system."

The North Korean prosecution had originally requested a 15-year sentence, but Kim's lawyer reportedly requested a lighter verdict on the grounds Kim "felt remorse" for his "foolish act."

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A lighter sentence would also allow Kim to see for himself the "true picture" of socialist Korea, the lawyer said, according to Yonhap.

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In March, Kim had said South Korea had 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.

Pyongyang has sentenced U.S. student Otto Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for taking down a political slogan at a North Korean hotel.

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