North Korea brought an American businessman before cameras Friday to confess to espionage more than a week after sentencing a University of Virginia student to 15 years of hard labor for pilfering.
The most recent confession was from Kim Tong Chol, identified in media reports as the 62-year-old president of a trade and hotel services company. During a press conference in Pyongyang, Kim admitted that he had collaborated with South Korea intelligence officials and spied for them, according to the Associated Press. He apologized for his “shameful” acts and pleaded for mercy.
Kim, whose name has also been reported as Kim Dong-chul, is a native of South Korea and a naturalized U.S. citizen. He told CNN in January that he lived in Fairfax, Va., before moving in 2011 to the Chinese city of Yangji near the North Korean border.
Kim was detained by North Korean authorities in October after receiving a USB stick and documents supposedly related to the North’s nuclear and military in a North Korean border city of Rason, according to South Korea’s Yonhap newspaper, which cited the North’s Korean Central News Agency.
Earlier this month, 21-year-old Otto Warmbier confessed to pilfering after trying to take a wall poster outside his hotel room. The Obama Administration demanded his release. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest accused North Korea of using Americans “as pawns to pursue a political agenda.”
Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. and other nations have risen in recent months as North Korea has progressed with nuclear testing and firing long- and short-range missiles, boasting that is acquiring the capability of placing a nuclear warhead on its rockets. The United Nations and the U.S. have responded with new sanctions.
SOURCE: Gregg Zoroya