North Korea confirmed Wednesday it detained a U.S. citizen at the Pyongyang International Airport in April for allegedly attempting to commit “hostile acts” against the country.
The American, who was identified as Kim Sang Dok (also known as Tony Kim), is a professor who was visiting North Korea to teach accounting at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency said. Kim was arrested by North Korean authorities on April 22 as he attempted to leave the country “for committing criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn the DPRK not only in the past but also during his last stay before interception,” KCNA added, using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
A spokesman for PUST, where Kim taught, told Reuters that Kim’s arrest was not connected to his work at the university, adding that his wife, who was with him in Pyongyang, has since returned to the U.S.
Kim is one of at least three Americans currently detained in North Korea. Kim Dong Chul, an American businessman, was arrested in October 2015 while allegedly meeting a North Korean soldier to receive classified intelligence, and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison and hard labor for espionage. In an interview with CNN in January 2016, the 62-year-old admitted to gathering information about Pyongyang’s nuclear program and military facilities in collusion with South Korea, though Seoul called the allegations “groundless.”