(Reuters) - An American university student who was held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months died at a hospital in Ohio this week, just days after he was released from captivity in a coma.
Three American men are still being held by North Korea:
- Kim Dong Chul, a 62-year-old Korean-American missionary formerly of Fairfax, Virginia, was sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years of hard labor for subversion. In an interview with CNN conducted in Pyongyang in January 2016, Kim said he was arrested in October 2015 after spying on behalf of what he called “South Korean conservative elements” who approached him while he was working at a trading business in Rason, a city in northern North Korea near the Chinese border. A North Korean defector later said she had met Kim in the United States and that he had told church gatherings he was a missionary helping North Koreans.
- Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, spent a month teaching accounting at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was detained at Pyongyang International Airport in April 2017 while trying to leave the country. The university’s chancellor said the arrest was not connected to PUST and that Kim had been involved with other activities, including helping an orphanage. North Korean state media reported that he was arrested for committing “hostile acts” against the government.
- Kim Hak Song also taught at PUST, which was founded by evangelical Christians and opened in 2010. The university’s co-founder said that Kim, who managed the school’s experimental farm at the college of agriculture and life sciences, was detained in May while traveling on a train from Pyongyang to China’s border town of Dandong. In February 2015, Kim wrote in a fundraising post on the website of a Korean-Brazilian church that he was a Christian missionary devoted to helping North Korea’s people learn to be self-sufficient. North Korean state media said he also was arrested on suspicion of committing “hostile acts” against the government.
Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn