SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has arrested an American citizen — a man believed to be from the Seattle area — for committing an unspecified crime against the country, state media reported Friday, 10 days after U.S. officials said an American had been detained by the reclusive nation.
State media appeared to confirm reports that emerged in recent weeks that U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae was being held, identifying the detainee by the Korean name Pae Jun Ho.
U.S. and Korean news reports said Bae lives in the Seattle area, and that his mother lives in Lynnwood.
The Korean Central News Agency said the American citizen had “admitted his crime,” which was “proven through evidence,” but gave no details about the accusations against him. It reported that he had gone to a northeastern city in early November while on a tour.
Bae reportedly operated a tour company that took visitors to North Korea. Because the United States has no embassy or consulate in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, the Swedish Embassy acts as the protecting power for American citizens. North Korean state media said officials from the Swedish mission visited the American detainee Friday.
A number of Americans have been detained in North Korea in what experts believe is a maneuver to get the United States to engage with the isolated regime. In the last four years, five U.S. citizens have been arrested for entering the country illegally or on unspecified charges, the U.S. State Department aid in a September travel warning.
The country recently launched a rocket in defiance of the U.S. and its allies. North Korea claimed the purpose was to carry a satellite into space, but Western officials believe the launch doubled as a way of testing its missile technology.
– Los Angeles Times (CNN contributed to this report)