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United States warns against North Korea travel after new arrest

12 May 2017

The State Department has issued a sharp warning to Americans against travel to North Korea after the arrest of a fourth USA citizen, cautioning against the "serious risk" of lengthy detention and "unduly harsh sentences".

Washington has suggested military action could be on the table but President Donald Trump has softened his message more recently, saying he would be "honored" to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

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The KCNA said in a terse statement that the man, whose Korean name is Kim Hak-song and whose Chinese name is Jin Xue Song, had worked for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

"When a U.S. citizen is reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which serves as the United States' Protecting Power in North Korea", the official said. On Sunday, Kim Hak Song became the fourth American citizen now jailed by the repressive regime, on charges such as espionage and "crimes against the state".

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A State Department official told CNN the USA is "aware of reports" that an American citizen was detained. "Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment‎".

Tony Kim, whose Korean name is Kim Sang-duk, was teaching accounting at the school and had been arrested on April 29 for committing "hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country", according to the KCNA.

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Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in 2016 for removing a political sign.