There is growing concern regarding the safety and well-being of at least four U.S. citizens known to be held by the communist North Korean regime after the rogue regime made a rather ominous announcement about them recently.
According to the New York Post, the state-run media outlet KCNA announced that their nation had the sovereign right to “ruthlessly punish” any U.S. citizens in their custody for alleged crimes against the state.
“Recent Americans detained are being interrogated by relevant legal authorities for criminal acts against the Republic,” read the pronouncement from the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “It is an exercise of the legitimate right of a sovereign state to deal with the criminals according to its law.”
“DPRK will detect and frustrate every anti-DPRK plot of the dishonest hostile elements and ruthlessly punish the criminals and thus reliably defend its state and social system,” the North Koreans added.
The U.S. State Department was aware of the threat posed against U.S. citizens detained by North Korea, and a spokesperson recently stated: “The security of US citizens is one of the department’s highest priorities. When a US citizen is reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang.”
The U.K. Daily Express reported that another State Department official explained: “US citizens in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement. The US Government has no diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea; we have no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens there.”
According to Newsmax, there are at least four Americans known to be detained by the North Koreans at the moment, the most recent detainee being Kim Hak Song, a Korean-American who taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, arrested a little more than a week ago for unspecified “hostile acts” against the North Korean government.
Just two weeks prior to Song’s arrest, another professor known as Tony Kim was taken into custody after being accused of attempting to overthrow the government.
A South Korean missionary who had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen, Kim Dong Chul, was arrested and convicted of being a spy in April 2016 and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.
Just a couple of months before Chul’s arrest and conviction, a U.S. college student named Otto Warmbier was arrested and convicted of stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
If these American prisoners being held in North Korea really are being “ruthlessly punished” worse than their alleged crimes would warrant, then this is an entirely unacceptable situation and all efforts must be made to effect their return.
In reality, this announcement was likely little more than chest-pounding by dictator Kim Jong Un as part of the ongoing stakes-raising standoff between Kim and President Donald Trump, who has made it quite clear to the world that things have changed since the last administration.
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