World Bulletin/News Desk
A North Korean court has sentenced a South Korean man to “hard labor” for life after convicting him of “state subversion” and “espionage,” according to the North’s state media Saturday.
The Korean Central News Agency revealed that Kim Jong-uk had been tried at the North’s Supreme Court on Friday.
Prosecutors had reportedly sought the death penalty for Kim - thought to be 49 or 50 years old - who “admitted to all his crimes” after being arrested in October of last year.
“He tried to infiltrate into Pyongyang after illegally trespassing on the border for the purpose of setting up underground church and gathering information about the internal affairs of the DPRK (North Korea) while luring its inhabitants into south Korea and spying on the DPRK," the KCNA announced.
Three months ago Kim publically apologized for “anti-state crimes” on North Korean television, admitting to being assisted by South Korea’s state spy agency.
The South’s National Intelligence Service denies recruiting Kim, who had been known as a missionary in Dandung - a Chinese town on the North Korean border.
Friends say that he travelled to the North to trace a group of refugees he had been sheltering in China, but who were then forcibly sent back to North Korea after being discovered by Chinese authorities in August 2012.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry expressed regret in April that the North had not met the South’s demand to “release and repatriate” Kim.
The case represents one of a series of similar crackdowns by the North on missionary activities involving foreign nationals within its borders.
United States citizen Kenneth Bae received 15 years hard labor in 2013, and is currently North Korea's longest-serving US prisoner since a ceasefire brought fighting in the Korean War to a close in 1953 – although the conflict still technically continues as a peace treaty was never signed.
In March of this year, 75-year-old Australian missionary John Short described the “grueling interrogations” he had faced while being held in the North before his release.
Short had been detained for leaving Christian pamphlets at a tourist site.Last Mod: 31 Mayıs 2014, 14:17