December 30, 2009 09:05
North Korea on Tuesday confirmed it is holding Robert Park, a Korean-American activist who had illegally entered the country. The official Korean Central News Agency said, "An American has been detained since he illegally entered through the [North] Korea-China border on Dec. 24. He is under investigation."
The North did not give his name or other details. It said he entered the North on Dec. 24, not Dec. 25 as a fellow human rights activist had originally claimed.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters, "We are concerned by these reports and we are looking into them." The U.S. is trying to get information through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.
The North could use Park as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the U.S., as it did when it detained two American journalists in March.
Park apparently carried a letter in which he mentioned the human rights issue and criticized North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
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