North Korea Detains 3rd American As Bargaining Chip

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Another American citizen has been detained in North Korea.

Tony Kim taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

The incident has added to the growing tensions between the United States and North Korea.

A statement from the university said Kim was detained on Saturday “as he was about to leave” the country for unknown reasons. They added that Kim had spent “several weeks” teaching at the school.

He is the third American currently being held in North Korea.

In 2016, Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel.

A few months later, Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced to tens years in prison for espionage.

“This is typical North Korean at a time when there’s so much tension,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson who has negotiated prisoner releases from North Korea. “They use these prisoners, these detainees from the United States as bargaining chips.”

Since the arrest, the regime has continued its war of words. It recently threatened Australia with a nuclear attack for its alliance with the U.S.

On Sunday, North Korea’s state media took aim at the U.S. writing “Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.” Currently, the aircraft carrier Carl USS Vinson is set to conduct drills with the Japanese navy near the Philippines before heading toward the Korean peninsula.

With no direct diplomatic ties, the U.S. is working with the Swedish Embassy in North Korea on Kim’s case. He was with his wife when he was arrested. She was not and is believed to be still in the country.

President Donald Trump spoke by phone Sunday with Japans Prime Minister and the President of China about North Korea’s nuclear program. In a call with the Chinese president, Trump said North Koreas actions were destabilizing the region.

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