For the second time this year North Korea has sentenced an American citizen to prison with hard labor. On Friday an American citizen with North Korean heritage was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage and subversion.
Kim Dong Chul was found guilty of articles 60 and 64 or North Korea’s criminal code. North Korea’s supreme court sentenced Chul to 10 years in prison after a brief trial in the country’s capital, Pyongyang. Chul is the second American citizen to be arrested and sentenced to extended prison time paired with hard labor. Earlier this year Otto Warmbier, an American college student, was sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison for engaging in “anti-state” activities while visiting the country.
The U.S. and South Korean governments have not yet commented on the arrest due to privacy considerations. It is unclear whether Chul is actually guilty or whether this is an elaborate attempt by North Korean officials to wring concessions from Washington and lessen strict sanctions placed on the country.
In past situations the North Koreans have held detainees until U.S. officials entered the country to request their release. The most notable of these instances being when Bill Clinton secured the freedom of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling who had illegally entered the country through China.
Its unclear whether or not Chul will serve his full sentence but it is highly unlikely. Past captives of North Korea have reported that they were coerced into admitting to crimes they did not commit.
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