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N. Korea detains another American over alleged hostile acts

08 May 2017

"The relevant authority is now carrying out a detailed investigation into the crime of Kim Hak-song", KCNA said in a statement.

North Korea announced Sunday that it has detained yet another U.S. citizen - the fourth now in the Hermit Kingdom's custody.

The North's sparse announcement came days after it confirmed its April detainment of PUST professor Kim Sang-duk, who goes by his American name, Tony Kim.

On Sunday, the KCNA did not say whether the two cases were connected.

North Korea says it has detained another American who is suspected of carrying out "acts of hostility" created to overturn the secretive state. The agency declined to comment further, citing privacy considerations.

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The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying it was aware of the detention reports.

Two months later, Kim Dong Chul was sentenced to 10 years hard labor for subversion.

- Hyeon Soo Lim, pastor of a Toronto church, was sentenced in December 2015 to life in prison for harming the dignity of North Korea's leadership and trying to use religion to destroy its system. The latter was arrested on charges of espionage. DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Although such hostage talks don't usually lead to negotiation over missile or nuclear weapons. the added numbers can certainly hamper and limit options the USA can take over North Korea", Koh added. For instance, President Trump last month said he was sending an "armada" to the Korean peninsula (even though that may not have actually happened).

Few details on Kim Hak-song or his arrest were immediately available.

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"This is North Korea's hostage diplomacy", Dr. Koh said.

North Korea's media, which enjoys bluster and strongman rhetoric, also has taken a rare swing at China - its main economic benefactor. Pupils are generally children from the North's elite. KCNA said he was detained Saturday on suspicion of committing "hostile acts".

The school - founded by evangelical Christians from overseas and opened in 2010 - is known to have a number of American faculty members.

As the US has no formal diplomatic relations with North Korea, securing their release is extremely hard.

President Donald Trump, who previously said the standoff with North Korea could lead to a "major, major conflict", said this week he would be "honoured" to meet Kim, whom he has called "a smart cookie", under the right circumstances.

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Meyers is a special correspondent.