A Korean-American man has confessed to trying to steal military secrets from North Korea in order to overthrow the government in Pyongyang.
Kim Dong-chul, who has been detained in North Korea since last October, took part in a meeting with media organizations in Pyongyang, confessed to his crime and asked for mercy, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Friday.
He said he tried to steal military secrets from North Korea in cooperation with South Koreans. He said the move was aimed at toppling the North Korean regime.
The meeting reportedly began with an official praising the country’s nuclear achievements and leader Kim Jong-un.
Earlier reports said that Kim was a Christian pastor who had worked in the US and China and sent medical aid to North Korea.
The CNN said in January that Kim was 60 and born in Fairfax, Virginia and that he said he worked as a spy for South Korea.
Two other foreign nationals are held in North Korea, an American student who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal a banner with a political slogan and a Korean-Canadian Christian pastor who was sentenced to life in jail for subversion.
On Thursday, North Korean said it successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine that can improve the country’s ballistic missile capabilities.
The test was conducted under Kim’s supervision. He hailed the test as an “historic” advance in North Korea’s nuclear strike capability.
Kim said the solid fuel test would allow a major upgrade in the country’s missile delivery systems would “strike great horror and terror into the hearts of our enemies.”
Solid-fuel rockets have advantages in military use, although liquid-fuel rockets are considered more sophisticated because of their controllable thrust.
The alleged test follows Pyongyang’s simulated test of an atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile last week that accelerated the country’s push to produce ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.