World News

North Korea reportedly detains US citizen as rhetoric, tensions ramp up

Missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high-ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017.
Sue-Lin Wong | Reuters

Amid rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, a U.S. citizen has reportedly been detained by the government of Kim Jong Un.

Early Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea arrested a U.S. citizen in Pyongyang on Friday, citing two unnamed sources. According to the publication, the person arrested is a Korean-American who taught at a university set up in the capital city by another Korean American who is a Christian.

The detention was confirmed to CNN and The Associated Press by an official at the Swedish Embassy, which represents American interests in North Korea. Both the AP and WSJ reported that the name of the man held is Tony Kim, which brings to three the number of Americans being held by the reclusive North Korean regime.

In response to an inquiry from CNBC, a State Department spokesperson said Foggy Bottom was "aware" of the reports, adding that "the protection of U.S. citizens is one of the Department's highest priorities." The spokesperson added that State would work with the Swedish Embassy, but declined to comment further.

The news comes as North Korea continues to rattle its saber at the U.S., whose officials have made clear that the "strategic patience" with the Communist-run country is nearing an end.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence toured the demilitarized zone that separates the North from South Korea, and declared that "all options were on the table" and that Kim should not test the U.S.'s "strength and resolve."

In its own display of military might, the North Korean government has recently tested long-range missiles—one of which took place just last week, but failed almost immediately.

The WSJ's full story can be found on its website (note subscription may be required).

Correction: Kim Jong Un is leader of North Korea. An earlier version misstated his name and position.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.