An American detained in North Korea said he spied against the country and asked for forgiveness on Friday, nine days after a US tourist was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion. Kim Tong Chol told a press conference in Pyongyang that he had collaborated with and spied for South Korean intelligence authorities in a plot to bring down the North's leadership and tried to spread religious ideas among North Koreans. Describing his acts as "shameful and ineffaceable," Kim, who was born in South Korea and became a naturalized US citizen, said he feels sorry for his crime and appealed to North Korean authorities to show him mercy by forgiving him, reports the AP.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service says it has no link to Kim's case; former detainees have said similar statements were coerced. In an interview with CNN in January, Kim said he lived in Fairfax, Va., before moving in 2011 to Yangji, near the Chinese-North Korean border. He said he commuted daily to Rason, a special economic zone in North Korea, and was detained there last October. On March 16, North Korea sentenced Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate, to prison after he confessed he tried to steal a propaganda banner. The US government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns. (More North Korea stories.)