If the accusations are confirmed by the North Korean authorities, US citizen Kim Hak Song, who worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, would become the fourth American held by the DPRK amid rising tensions between the countries.
"A relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Kim Hak Song on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspension of his hostile acts against it," the North Korean agency reported as quoted by Reuters.
On April 22, US citizen engaged in relief efforts in Pyongyang was detained attempting to leave North Korea, the third American to be arrested recently. Tony Kim, who also goes by the Korean name of Kim Sang Duc, was arrested at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport as he was preparing to depart from North Korea, following a month-long working visit. Earlier this week, Kim Sang Duc was charged with "criminal acts of hostility" against the state.
The situation near the Korean Peninsula has escalated recently, following several missile and nuclear tests carried out by Pyongyang. The international community, including regional countries, has repeatedly condemned North Korea's military activities. Washington and Pyongyang have traded increasingly strident military threats with each other recently, resulting in calls from US regional allies and China asking for both sides to calm down.
At least 10 US citizens have been arrested and sentenced in North Korea since 2009, according to Yonhap. Many believe that the Americans are held by Pyongyang primarily as diplomatic bargaining chips.