North Korea holding US citizen for allegedly spying: CNN

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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.

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North Korea holding US citizen for allegedly spying: CNN

General view of the capital with the Golf club near the river Taedong ,August 10,2005,in Pyongyang ,North Korea.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the first party committee meeting in Pyongyang, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) December 25, 2016.

(KCNA KCNA / Reuters)

A general view of downtown street on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

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North Korean children practise table tennis against the wall in a primary school on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

The Monument to the Party Founding is seen on April 3, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

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Cyclists ride along the banks of the Taedong River in front of the Grand People's Study House opposite the Tower of the Juche Idea. The 100,000 square metre building can house 30 million volumes and accommodate over 12,000 peeople daily; it contains 600 rooms.

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North korean pioneers going to pay respect to the dear leaders at mansudae art studio, pyongyang, North Korea on September 8, 2012 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

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People commute on the bus near April 25 House of Culture, the venue of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) congress in Pyongyang, North Korea May 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

Commuters queue for buses on October 30, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

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A man looks across Yalu River towards North Korea as he stands next to the bridge that connects China's Dandong, Liaoning province and North Korea's Sinuiju, September 10, 2016.

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A soldier walks under portraits of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung (L) and former leader Kim Jong-il at Pyongyang's main square October 11, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

O Yang Ran and her husband Kim Chol Nam pose during a photo session at Pyongyang Folk Park, October 11, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

A boy dressed as solider wait for the bus with others in central Pyongyang, October 11, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

A Chinese man washes his mop on February 14, 2012 in Dandong, China. Dandong lies on the border between China and North Korea and is the largest border city in China.

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A man rides a bicycle in a park on April 3, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Two North Korean boys make a fun on the street on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Commuters move by escalator at Puhung Subway station situated more than 100M below the surface, it is also an atomic shelter, on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

North Korean children play football in a primary school on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

North Korean children perform in a primary school on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

North Korean children perform in a primary school on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea and the population is about 2,500,000.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

The Immortal Statue of Kim Il Sung monument is seen on August 12, 2009 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

(Photo by NK News/Getty Images)

Portraits of President Kim Il Sung (L) and his son Kim Jong Il, current Secretary General of the Korean Workers Party and Chief General of the army, in the international conference room for Korea's reunification.

(Photo by Alain Nogues/Corbis via Getty Images)

This photo taken on January 7, 2017 and released on January 9, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows a joint conference of officials of the party, state, economic and armed forces organs to discuss ways for carrying through the tasks set forth by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in his New Year address in Pyongyang.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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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.

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