North Korea Sentences American to 10 Years in Prison for ‘Spying’

April 29, 2016 Updated: April 30, 2016

After a brief trial in Pyongyang, North Korea has sentenced a Korean-American convicted of espionage and subversion to 10 years of hard labor on April 29.

“The accused confessed to all crimes he had committed (…) and gathered and offered information on its party, state and military affairs to the south Korean puppet regime, which are tantamount to state subversive plots and espionage,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

Kim Dong Chul, 62, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested in North Korea last October in the city of Rason where he reportedly owns a business.

The decision was made by North Korea’s Supreme Court.

Kim, who was born in South Korea, said he spied on behalf of  “South Korean conservative elements,” CNN reported.

“I was tasked with taking photos of military secrets and ‘scandalous’ scenes.

“They asked me to help destroy the (North Korean) system and spread propaganda against the government,” Kim said

However, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, which is the country’s main spy agency, said Kim’s case was not related to their organization in anyway, according to Fox News. 

Initially, Kim was supposed to get a 15-year sentence, but his defense attorney requested leniency due to his old age, KCNA said.

Kim is the second American this year to be sentenced to prison with hard labor by North Korea.   

Last month a U.S student from University of Virginia, Otto Warmbier, was given 15 years of hard labor by North Korea for attempting to steal a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel in January.

Kim claims to have two daughters in New York and siblings in South Korea.