Last week, Mary wrote about North Korea detaining a third American, and today we learn that they have detained a fourth American citizen.
North Korea announced Sunday that it detained a fourth American citizen over unspecified hostile acts against the country and amid worsening tensions with the U.S.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said that Kim Hak Song had worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology before he was held on Saturday.
North Korea on Wednesday announced the detention of an accounting instructor at the same university, Kim Sang Dok, for “acts of hostility aimed at overthrowing the country.” Kim was detained in April at the airport in Pyongyang.
The KCNA report didn’t say whether the two cases are connected.
Kim Hak Song is among at least four Americans being detained in North Korea.
The specific charges are not yet known, though CNN reports that North Korea’s state-run news agency said, “The relevant authority is currently carrying out a detailed investigation into the crime of Kim Hak-song.”
Watch the reports:
Unlike his father who reportedly used American hostages to bring America to the bargaining table, Kim Jong Un appears to be using American hostages, in part, as human shields, hoping to protect himself against American air strikes targeting his regime and its nuclear and missile programs.
Kim Jong Un is detaining American citizens as human shields amid fears of a U.S. attack targeting his nuclear and missile programs as part of a new form of “hostage diplomacy,” according to experts.
North Korea has long detained U.S. citizens to use as bargaining chips.
But unlike his father Kim Jong Il, the young dictator is using prisoners to protect himself rather than as a tool to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table, analysts said.
. . . . “Kim Jong Un is using hostage diplomacy as a part of his military and defense strategy with focus on preventing the U.S. from removing him from power as well as to prevent the U.S. from taking military options against North Korea, ” Dr. An Chan Il, president of the World Institute for North Korea Studies and a former defector, told NBC News.
Dr. Koh Yu Hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said that taking hostages remained worth its while for North Korea.
“Although such hostage talks don’t usually lead to negotiation over missile or nuclear weapons … the added numbers can certainly hamper and limit options the U.S. can take over North Korea,” Koh added.
It is also possible that North Korea’s unpredictable leader is taking American hostages not only as protection but as a show of independence on the world stage.
John Nilsson-Wright, a senior research fellow in the Asia program at the London-based Chatham House think tank, agreed that Kim Jong Un’s actions could be part of an effort to stop the U.S. military from attacking North Korea.
But he said it was more likely such moves were “grandstanding,” and not about bringing the U.S. to the negotiating table.
“The current situation is not a bad one for Kim Jong Un,” Nilsson-Wright said. “He’s had a lot of airtime and the more he continues to test missiles and move forward with militarization, he can demonstrate his independence to the international community and present himself to his people as unbowed.”
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