A US citizen of Korean background has just been arrested in North Korea. This is the fourth such incident in a fairly short period of time.
Every year, North Korea receives thousands of visitors, most on special guided tours. Most visits are free of any incidents. However, North Korea does have strict rules. If you break them, don’t expect a slap on the wrist.
1. Kim Dong Chul
Kim Dong Chul was born in South Korea before becoming a US citizen. On a visit to North Korea in 2015, he was arrested and charged with stealing state secrets for the benefit of South Korea and the US.
He later confessed to receiving a USB stick containing North Korean military secrets.
2. Otto Warmbier
If there was a Darwin Award for ‘doing stupid things in North Korea’ Otto Warmbier would be a shoe-in.
Warmbier visited North Korea on a guided tour when he was 21. Most 21 year olds do stupid stuff. Driving tio fast, drinking too much, pranks that get out of hand, but stealing a poster from the North Korean state is usually not on this list. But it was on Warmbier’s list.
In a North Korean courtroom, he broke down in tears and confessed that he tried to steal a North Korean political poster.
He was sentenced to 15 years hard labour.
3. Kim Sang-duk
Kim Sang-duk, aka Tony Kim had been a guest professor at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. In April of 2017, at the height of tensions between the US and the DPRK (North Korea), he was arrested on the vague charge of ‘hostile against’ against the North Korean state. He remains behind bars.
He was known to work with human rights organisations whose agenda can be considered as conflicting with that of the North Korean government.
4. Kim Hak-song
Like Jim Sang-duk, Kim Hak-song had also been teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
His arrest today may be related to that of Kim Sang-duk.
No further information is known about the nature of the arrest.