In a Wednesday announcement, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced the charges brought against a US citizen detained at North Korea's largest airport on April 22 while he was waiting to board a flight out of the country.
The American, identified as Tony Kim but traveling on a passport using his Korean name, Kim Sang-duc, was "intercepted for committing criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn the DPRK not only in the past but also during his last stay before interception," stated KCNA, cited by Yonhap.
The US citizen, a professor in his mid 50s, formerly taught accounting at China's Yanbian University of Science and Technology, just north of the North Korea/China border. While in North Korea, Kim had been involved in an undisclosed form of relief activity, according to Stripes.com.
The arrest coincides with a period of extremely high tensions in the region, amid Pyongyang's continued test-firing of ballistic missiles and underground detonations of nuclear weapons and Washington's military posturing.
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.
The imprisonment of two other Americans — 21-year-old University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after trying to steal a propaganda banner as souvenir, and Christian priest Kim Dong-chul, who is serving 10 years for espionage — have contributed to the increasing strain in relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
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.