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North Korea Holding 4th US Citizen in Detention

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North Korean media says the government is holding another United States citizen.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim Hak Song was detained on Saturday for suspected “hostile acts.”

Kim worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. He is the second university instructor to be arrested in the past two months.

Last month, North Korean officials detained Pyongyang University accounting professor Kim Sang Dok. The government said he was arrested for “committing criminal acts. He was accused of “acts of hostility aimed to overturn” the rule of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department said it knows about the latest detention. It said “The security of U.S. citizens is one of the department’s highest priorities. When a U.S. citizen is reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang” to try to secure their freedom.

Kim’s detention comes as tensions between the two countries increase over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. The United States has sent an aircraft carrier strike group to waters off the Korean coast as a warning to North Korea to cut back on its military activities.

In the past, North Korea has detained U.S. citizens to use as bargaining chips in negotiations with the U.S. government.

Last year, North Korea sentenced Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, to 15 years of hard labor. The sentence was announced after he admitted he tried to steal a propaganda sign.

And Kim Dong Chul is serving 10 years of hard labor after being jailed on subversion charges. Kim was born in South Korea, but is believed to have U.S. citizenship.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Words in this Story

bargaining chip – n. something that can be used when you are trying to make a deal

priorities – n. goals or objectives; the things that someone cares about and thinks are important

instructor – n. someone who teaches, like a college teacher

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