Exactly two weeks after North Korea arrested Tony Kim, a Korean-American professor in his 50s at Pyongyang International Airport as he was leaving North Korea, Kim Jong-Un has again provoked the US and overnight North Korea detained another U.S. citizen tied to the Christian-backed university in Pyongyang. According to the report issued on Sunday by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, Kim Hak-song was arrested for committing “hostile acts”, and works for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a university founded in 2010 by James Kim, a Korean-American Christian businessman.
“A relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Kim Hak Song on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspension of his hostile acts against it.”
PUST, while not officially Christian, hires largely Christian faculty, and says on its website that “churches can support PUST through prayer and through spreading the news about this project among congregation members.” According to Reuters, the volunteer faculty of PUST, many of whom are evangelical Christians, has a curriculum that includes subjects once considered taboo in North Korea, such as capitalism. The college is an unlikely fit in a country that has been condemned by the U.S. State Department for cracking down on freedom of religion.
Over the past few years, North Korea has arrested a number of U.S. citizens doing Christian-related work in the isolated country. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, was sentenced to 12 years’ hard labor for “hostile acts,” and was freed after two years in November 2014. In 2014, American Jeffery Fowle was detained and held for six months after leaving a Bible in a nightclub bathroom, according to the WSJ.
In addition to the two Kims from PUST, North Korea last year sentenced Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate arrested for allegedly trying to steal a political poster from a hotel, and Kim Dong-chul, a Korean-American businessman, to terms of 15 years and 10 years of hard labor, respectively.
White two weeks ago the White House acknowledged it was aware of the US citizen detention in North Korea, it has so far failed to even lodge a former demand for the first Kim’s release. It has yet to make a statement on the latest arrest.
Separately, and in keeping up with the recent belligerent rhetoric out of N.Korea, the country again threatened to nuke the White House and reduce it to ashes as Kim Jong-un’s regime bragged the days of the US are now “over” adding “this is a stern warning to the US imperialists and their stooges running amuck for aggression and war moves.”
The threat was unveiled in an editorial published by KNCA, in which Pyongyang slammed President Donald Trump’s decision to dispatch its naval fleet to the Korean Peninsula. The op-ed vowed it would be victorious over an enemy made up of “murderous ogres”, “robbers”, “air pirates” and “warriors who master the occult arts”, according to the Express.
“The world will clearly witness how the crime-woven history of the US imperialists will be over, how the despicable remaining days of the south Korean puppet forces will come to an end and how national reunification, the cherished desire of the Korean nation, will be achieved.” North Korea’s military commander also said the White House would be “reduced to ashes”, even as the US was planning to destroy Pyongyang the op-ed claimed.
The article claimed 330,000 US soldiers took part in military drills designed to rehearse an “all-out war” with North Korea and pledged that Pyongyang “will retaliate” and “the crime-woven history of the US imperialists will be over”. North Korea also accused the US of being a “hotbed of evil” which needed to be hit with an “indiscriminate preemptive nuclear strike” to transform the superpower into “something that cannot come back to life again”.
The ongoing threats come as State media said Kim Jong-un has inspected his military’s new battle plans and bragged his forces are “fully ready for combat and to go into action.” Chris Douglas of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute warned that “a fanatical regime facing extinction wouldn’t think twice about sending a container bearing a nuclear device to the US or an allied country and detonating it.” Luckily, the desperation of the “fanatical regime” has not yet reached peak levels.
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