North Korea To Issue Verdict On US Citizen Pae Jun-Ho, Charged With Attempting To Overthrow Government

The US citizen could face the death penalty
The US citizen could face the death penalty

North Korea is to try a US citizen on charges of trying to overthrow the government, its official news agency has reported.

Pae Jun-Ho, who is reportedly a tour operator of Korean descent, entered the country in November. The 44-year-old has admitted the charges, according to KCNA.

"He will soon be taken to the Supreme Court of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) to face judgment," the news agency said.

He is the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009 and could face either the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Tension between the US and North Korea has escalated significantly in recent months as Pyongyang ramped up aggressive rhetoric against both the South and America.

"Bae is a bargaining chip in dealing with the US," Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University in Seoul told Associated Press news agency.

Fresh UN sanctions imposed on North Korea after they conducted a third nuclear test blast underground in February have been matched with increasingly bellicose rhetoric, including threats to Washington and Seoul.

North Korea responded to the sanctions by “ending” the armistice with South Korea signed at the end of the 1953 conflict, shutting its shared border and closing its hotline with Seoul.

Most recently North Korea issued a series of “incomprehensible” demands as the conditions for it to move forward with talks to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Earlier in April the hermetic state published a statement via the official KCNA news agency, offering to talk with the US but only if the UN ends sanctions and the US and South Korea terminate joint military manoeuvres. It also demanded that Washington withdrew its nuclear arsenal from the region.

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