A month and a half after sentencing University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster, North Korea has handed down another harsh punishment to an American. According to the dictatorship’s official news agency, 62-year-old Kim Dong Chul has received a ten-year sentence for “perpetrating the state subversive plots and espionage against the DPRK.”
A native of South Korea and former resident of Fairfax, Virginia, Kim became an American citizen in 1987. According to a (heavily monitored) interview he gave after he was arrested last October, Kim moved to the Chinese border town of Yanji in 2001 and ran a company that does business around North Korea’s borders with China and Russia. During that interview, he confessed to spying for “South Korean conservative elements,” presumably because that’s what his captors told him to say.