A U.S. citizen of Korean ancestry was sentenced on April 30 to 10 years in prison, accused of spying on Kim Jong-un’s government and stealing state documents. This would be the second American North Korea convicts to prison. North Korean Supreme Court found Kim Dong Chul guilty of espionage and subversion in detriment of Articles 60 and 64 of North Koreas crime constitution.
The details of his arrest and procedure were not given immediately.
This happened less than two months since the imprisonment of another U.S. citizen, Otto Warmbier, a student, was sentenced to 15 years in prison charged with anti-state activities. The events took place in January this year when Warmbier admitted trying to steal a propaganda sign to bring back home as a “trophy”. KCNA, North Korea´s news agency reported at the time that the 21-year-old student from the University of Virginia committed an offence "pursuant to the US government's hostile policy".
This is a time when North Korea has increased tensions against the nations they consider their enemies. They regularly accuse Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow them. These arrests can be considered a way of tightening tensions between both nations.
Added to this, the UN has strongly accused North Korea of unacceptable launchings of nuclear missiles in January, which was followed by a rocket launch in February.
However, most of those who are sentenced to long terms are released before completing their full time. This has happened after US officials or statesmen personally visited Pyongyang to negotiate their release. This brought Bill Clinton, for instance, who secured the freedom of American journalist Euna Lee and Laura Ling back in 2009. They had both entered the nation illegally through China.
In 2014, US spy chief James Clapper brought forth the release of Mathew Miller and Korean-American missionary who had been detained since 2012.