And He Huffed and Puffed : North Korea Detains another U.S. Citizen : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan
According to the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea, seemingly desperate to be identified as “the little nation that could”, found a new and even more dangerous way to provoke the United States when it detained a U.S. citizen at Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday morning. The man, Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk, was detained on Saturday, Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, told The Associated Press. Mr. Park said Mr. Kim had taught accounting at the university for about a month, and had taught at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China before coming to Pyongyang. He said Mr. Kim had been detained by officials at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang as he was trying to leave North Korea.
Mr. Kim was detained while trying to board a flight to China according to Colin McCulloch, the director of external relations at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). Some reports say that Tony Kim, 58, was with his wife when he was detained. The detention was confirmed by Martina Aberg, deputy chief of mission at the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. The embassy represents US interests in North Korea, since Washington and Pyongyang do not have direct diplomatic relations. “He was prevented from getting on the flight out of Pyongyang,” Aberg told CNN. “We don’t comment further than this.”
The US State Department on Sunday said it was working on the case. “We are aware of reports that a US citizen was detained in North Korea,” said a department official. “The protection of US citizens is one of the Department’s highest priorities.”
The official said the US would work with the Swedish Embassy on the matter, but did not provide further comment. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing unnamed sources, earlier said that a Korean-American man identified only by his last name, Kim, had been arrested at the airport. It said that Kim has been involved in aid and relief programs to North Korea. This brings the number of Americans thought to be held by the secretive nation to three.
PHOTO: American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang.
Otto Warmbier, (Left) 21, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained at Pyongyang airport on January 2 last year after visiting the country with a tour group. He has since been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly removing a political sign from a hotel wall. Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized US citizen of Korean origin, was arrested on October 2015. Last year, North Korea sentenced him to 10 years of hard labor on espionage charges.
Since 2013, at least two other US citizens and a British journalist have also been detained for shorter periods and then released. All of them were grabbed by North Korean security forces as they attempted to fly out of Pyongyang airport.
Merril Newman, who at the time of his October 2013 detention was an 85-year old US veteran of the Korean War, was released two months later after a videotaped apology. American Jeffrey Fowle spent five months in detention in 2014 for allegedly leaving a bible at a club for foreign sailors. And last May, North Korean security officers detained BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes as he was about to fly out of the country. He was interrogated for at least 10 hours and accused of defaming the Korean nation before eventually being released.
Relations with Washington have reached a pitch recently, as North Korea has tested missiles and the United States has threatened to send warships to the region.
North Korea said Sunday it was ready to sink a United States aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a United States carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, Reuters reported.
“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.
The detention comes amid a buildup of tension on the Korean peninsula. The US and Chinese governments have repeatedly warned the North Korean regime not to conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test. Pyongyang says it has the right to develop nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan — both key US allies in the region — have condemned frequent North Korean missile launches that are all banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Washington recently dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to the region as a warning to Pyongyang.
Japan announced Sunday that two of its destroyers began conducting joint naval drills with a USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group in the western Pacific Ocean
Last year, North Korea sentenced an American college student, Otto F. Warmbier, to 15 years’ hard labor after accusing him of trying to steal a political banner from his hotel in Pyongyang. It later sentenced another American, Kim Dong-chul, to 10 years’ hard labor on charges of spying and other offenses.
Jeffrey Fowle was picked up by an American helicopter in Pyongyang and flown to Guam. For those of you who don’t know, Fowle was one of three Americans who were being held in North Korea for various crimes against the state. Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller remain interred in the notorious prison camps of NoKo. CNN was granted access to interview these men before they were sentenced.
Fowle was accused of leaving a bible in his hotel room. He was arrested at the airport. Promoting religion that is not state authorized is a crime. Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years for trying to overthrow the government, setting up bases of rebellion against the North Korean authority. This is what they were accused of and pled guilty to.
Matthew Miller was arrested for ripping up his Visa and seeking asylum in North Korea. I guess he thought he would be welcomed like Rodman was. He wasn’t made an honorary North Korean, he was placed in a prison camp.
In 2014, an American citizen, Jeffrey E. Fowle, was arrested and accused of leaving a Bible in a hotel. He was released later that year.
Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor after he was charged with trying to establish a secret proselytizing network, was freed in 2014 after the American government sent the director of national intelligence at the time, James R. Clapper Jr., to North Korea.
Americans are not the only foreigners being held in the North. In 2015, a South Korea-born Canadian pastor was sentenced there to hard labor for life on charges of plotting to overthrow the North Korean leadership. The North has also arrested at least four South Koreans on spying and other charges in recent years.
So, that’s it. I’m taking Pyongyang off my vacation list. That leaves Figi, Bali , St. Tropez and Gary, Indiana.