Seoul- A university in North Korea has confirmed the arrest of a United States citizen who was lecturing there – the third American held in the country amid growing tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Kim Sang Duk, or Tony Kim, was arrested at the Capital’s airport on Saturday as he was about to leave after teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) for several weeks, the school said.
The school – founded by evangelical Christians from overseas and opened in 2010 – is known to have a number of American faculty members. Students are generally the children of the country’s elite.
The reason for Kim’s arrest was unclear but was “not connected in any way with the work of PUST,” the school said in a statement.
“We cannot comment on anything that Mr. Kim may be alleged to have done that is not related to his teaching work and not on the PUST campus,” it said.
The Swedish embassy in Pyongyang – which handles issues involving US citizens as Washington has no diplomatic ties with the North – is “actively involved” in talks, School’s External Director Colin McCulloch said in a statement without elaborating.
Notably, Kim is a former professor at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China, close to the Korean border. Its website lists his specialty as accounting.
The US State Department said it was aware of media reports over the case but gave no official confirmation.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency gave Kim’s age as 55 and said he had been involved in relief activities for children in rural parts of North Korea.