According to a university chancellor and the embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang, a United States citizen has been detained by North Korea. This now increases the number of US citizen believed to be detained by North Korea to three. The development is likely to complicate the relationship between the two countries at a time when tensions are already high.
Tony Kim, the US citizen who is allegedly detained, was an accounting professor at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Previously, Kim was in China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology. Pyongyang University is affiliated to Yanbian. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology’s chancellor, Park Chan-mo, revealed that Kim was detained by authorities as he was leaving North Korea. This was at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport.
Relief and aid programs
Yonhap News Agency of South Korea also cited sources it couldn’t disclose collaborating the story while also adding that Kim had been involved in relief and aid programs to the hermit state. Further collaboration of the development was provided by the embassy of Sweden which caters for Washington’s consular affairs as the U.S. lacks diplomatic ties with the secretive Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. However, the government of South Korea said it could not provide confirmation for the report.
If the development is indeed true this will be the third American to be detained by North Korea in the recent past. It is understood that the goal is to use the captives as diplomatic leverage as relations between the United States and North Korea hit a rough patch. This follows the testing of missiles by North Korea and the threats by the US to send a strike group to the Korean Peninsula.
Ready to retaliate
North Korea has in turn said that it is prepared to sink USS Carl Vinson, the US aircraft carrier that is headed to the peninsula.
“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” read a commentary in a newspaper associated with the ruling Worker’s Party of North Korea, Rodong Sinmun.
Already, joint exercises involving Japanese naval ships and USS Carl Vinson have already started in the area around Philippine Sea.