PYONGYANG, South Korea — North Korea on Friday sentenced a U.S. citizen of Korean heritage to 10 years in prison after convicting him of espionage and subversion, the second American it has put behind bars this year.
Kim Dong Chul had been detained in the North on suspicion of engaging in spying and stealing state secrets. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor after a brief trial in Pyongyang. North Korea’s Supreme Court found Kim guilty of crimes and espionage and subversion of under Articles 60 and 64 of the North’s criminal code.
Further details were not immediately available. When he was paraded before the media in Pyongyang last month, Kim said he had collaborated with and spied for South Korean intelligence authorities in a plot to bring down the North’s leadership and had tried to spread religion among North Koreans before his arrest in the city of Rason last October.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, the country’s main spy agency, has said Kim’s case wasn’t related to the organization in any way.
Kim’s sentencing comes on the heels of a 15-year sentence handed down on Otto Warmbier, an American university student who the North says was engaged in anti-state activities while visiting the country as a tourist earlier this year.
North Korea regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow its government to enable the U.S.-backed South Korean government to control the entire Korean Peninsula. Some foreigners previously arrested have read statements of guilt they later said were coerced.
Most of those who are sentenced to long prison terms are released before serving their full time.