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North Korea says it has detained a US citizen

December 21, 2012

The North Korean flag flies outside their embassy in Beijing, Dec 12, 2012. — Photo by AFP

PYONGYANG, North Korea: North Korea said Friday it had detained an American citizen who had confessed to unspecified crimes.  

State media said in a short dispatch that someone named Pae Jun Ho entered North Korea on Nov 3 as a tourist but was detained because of crimes.

The North said the crimes were ''proven through evidence'' but didn't elaborate.

Pyongyang has detained and eventually released several Americans in recent years. Some have been journalists and others Christians accused of religious proselytising.

In 2009, two journalists were detained after crossing into the North from China while on a reporting trip. They were later released.

South Korean activists told local media in Seoul that the detained man was a Korean American and was taken into custody after entering North Korea to guide tourists. He operates a tourism company that specialises in North Korea, the reports said.

The North Korean dispatch said officials from the Swedish Embassy met with the American on Friday, but there were no other details about the meeting.

Karl-Olof Andersson, Sweden's ambassador to North Korea, told The Associated Press he could not comment on the case and referred the matter to the US State Department.

Sweden represents the US in diplomatic affairs in North Korea since Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations.

The detained American is undergoing ''legal treatment'' according to North Korea's criminal law, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.