North Korea holding US citizen for allegedly spying: CNN

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
CNN: North Korea Detains American Citizen for Allegedly Spying

SEOUL, Jan 11 (Reuters) - A Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in North Korea for subversion said he spends eight hours a day digging holes at a labor camp, while a naturalized American citizen said he is being held by the state for spying, CNN reported from Pyongyang.

If the detention of the American, Kim Dong Chul, is confirmed, he would be the second Western citizen known to be currently held in North Korea. He is being held for spying for South Korea and has asked the South or the U.S. government to rescue him, CNN said, adding Kim is 60 and formerly of Fairfax, Virginia.

GALLERY: Take a look inside North Korean daily life

30 PHOTOS
Take a look inside North Korean daily life
See Gallery
North Korea holding US citizen for allegedly spying: CNN
FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2014, photo, a clock is visible on top of a train station in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" is meant to root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
In this June 19, 2014 photo, a North Korean man pushes his bicycle to a village in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 15, 2014 photo, the remains of lunch sits on a restaurant table in the city of Wonsan, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, a North Korean man stands in front of a row of homes in the town of Kimchaek, in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Koreans gather together on the steps of Mansu Hill to lay flowers at the base of statues of the late leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, the eve of the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a group of young North Koreans enjoys a picnic on the beach in Wonsan, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 17, 2014 photo, a North Korean man sits by a cooking fire he built to roast potatoes and chicken in the town of Samjiyon, in North Korea's Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean aerobics instructors practice a routine at a dance studio inside the newly-opened Kumrung Sports Exercise Center in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Building new recreational and health facilities has been a cornerstone of leader Kim Jong Un's efforts to fulfill a promise made to raise living standards in North Korea. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, North Korean people rest next to the railroad tracks in a town in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, North Korean men share a picnic lunch and North Korean-brewed and bottled Taedonggang beer along the road in North Korea's North Hwanghae province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, young North Korean schoolchildren help to fix pot holes in a rural road in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean women in colorful traditional dresses are surrounded by flower blossoms known as "Kimilsungia" as they wait to guide guests at a flower exhibition in Pyongyang, North Korea Monday, April 14, 2014. The flowers, named after Kim Il Sung, are on display to celebrate the late leader's official birth date of April 15, 1912. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 14, 2014 photo, portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are illuminated on a building side as the sun rises over Pyongyang. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2014, photo, a clock hangs on the wall as North Koreans leave an underground train station in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" is meant to root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
North Korea's capital Pyongyang, viewed from a window of an Air Koryo flight arriving from Beijing, stands on the horizon on Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this Monday, June 16, 2014 photo, a North Korean man driving an ox cart protects himself in a rainstorm south of Hyesan, North Korea in Ryanggang province. For more than four decades, farming in North was characterized by heavy use of mechanization and technological innovations, swiftly followed by chronic fuel and equipment shortages and long-term damage caused by stopgap policies. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean children climb steps near Mansu Hill in Pyongyang on their way to lay flowers at the feet of bronze statues of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a man works on his car as others sit next to the sea Wonsan, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, statues of animals playing musical instruments stand along the roadside south of Samsu, North Korea in Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, exhaust fumes, like fog, spills out of the long Hamgwan Tunnel near Hamhung in North Korea's South Hamgyong province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
10ThingstoSeeSports - North Korean spectators watch from the stands of Kim Il Sung Stadium as runners line up at the start of the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sunday, April 13, 2014. The annual race, which includes a full marathon, a half marathon, and a 10-kilometer run, was open to foreign tourists for the first time this year. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
A North Korean man helps a woman fire a bow and arrow at a firing range at the Meari Shooting Gallery in Pyongyang on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 17, 2014 photo, a North Korean man takes shelter in the rain next to long propaganda billboards in the town of Samjiyon in North Korea's Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a woman walks along an open road southeast of Pyongyang in North Korea's North Hwanghae province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 19, 2014 photo, a hotel employee walks in the lobby of a hotel that accommodates foreign visitors in Chongjin, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In June 18, 2014 photo, a boulder lies on a path near the peak of Mount Paektu in North Korea's Ryanggang province. North Koreans venerate Mount Paektu for its natural beauty, but more importantly because it is considered the home of the North Korean revolution. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, farmers walk in a rainstorm with their cattle near the town of Hyesan, North Korea in Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a row of bicycles are parked next to the sea Wonsan, North Korea. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this Monday, June 16, 2014 photo, North Korean men rest along the roadside north of Samsu, North Korea in Ryanggang province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian who was the head pastor at one of Canada's largest churches, has been held by the North since last February. Lim, who was 60 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to hard labor for life in December for attempting to overthrow the North's regime.

"I wasn't originally a laborer, so the labor was hard at first," Lim told CNN in Korean through an interpreter. "But now I've gotten used to it."

The charges against Lim lacked specifics, but he said it may be related to his open criticism of the North's three generations of leaders.

"I admit I've violated this government's authority, system and order," Lim said in the interview aired on Monday. Asked if his biggest crime was speaking badly of the North's leaders, he said: "Yes, I think so."

Lim's family in Canada released a statement after the interview, urging the Canadian government to accelerate diplomatic discussions to secure his "speedy release."

A spokesman for the Canadian foreign ministry said the government "is working towards a resolution in his case" and is concerned for his rights and well-being, but said no further information could be shared.

A church spokeswoman noted Lim's changed appearance.

"We recognize that the difference in physical appearance is 'standard' for those sentenced in the DPRK but it's never really standard (when) it's a personal loved one. Having said this, we are hopeful because he himself was heard saying that he is at peace," Lisa Pak, spokeswoman for the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto, said in an email.

Lim was brought into a Pyongyang hotel for the interview, wearing a grey padded prison uniform bearing the number "036" on his chest, and with his hair cropped short. He said works eight hours a day, six days a week digging holes in an orchard at a labor camp where he has seen no other prisoners, CNN said.

Lim, who had lived in Canada since 1986, gets three meals and day and regular medical attention, CNN said. His church has said Lim had a "very serious health problem, very high blood pressure."

Lim had visited the North more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home, according to the church.

In a separate interview, Kim told CNN he spied on behalf of "South Korean conservative elements" and was arrested in October.

"I was tasked with taking photos of military secrets and scandalous scenes," Kim said.

The U.S. embassy in Seoul said it was aware of the report but did not have further comment.

A U.S. State Department official declined to comment on the reports, saying that speaking publicly about specific cases of detained Americans can complicate efforts to get them released.

If his detention is confirmed, Kim would be the first American to be held by the North since it released three U.S. citizens in 2014.

He said he had moved to the Chinese city of Yanji near the border with North Korea and worked in the North Korean city of Rason in a trading business, when a number of South Koreans approached him

"They asked me to help destroy the (North's) system and spread propaganda against the government," he said. He is being held at a Pyongyang hotel and is in good health, CNN said.

More from AOL.com:

Italian police probe slaying of American woman in Florence
4 teens in custody in alleged group rape at NYC playground
David Bowie dies at 69 after battle with cancer

Read Full Story

People are Reading