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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Korean Prisoner Confirms Spy Story

SEOUL -- The only North Korean captured alive after landing from a submarine last month said Tuesday the vessel was on a spy mission and faced little difficulty slipping through South Korean coastal defenses.

Lee Kwang-soo, 31, said the crew of the vessel pledged loyalty to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in front of the head of the reconnaissance bureau on the eve of their infiltration Sept. 14.

Lee, a coxswain, challenged Pyongyang's claim the sub drifted into Southern waters due to engine trouble.

"It is a lie," he told his first news conference since his capture Sept. 18.

Tensions have been high on the Korean peninsula since the submarine landed 26 North Koreans on an east coast beach last month. All but three of the crew have been killed or captured.

Lee said infiltrators were instructed to kill themselves if they faced arrest.

Kwak Kyong-il, 25, a North Korean sergeant who defected to the South this month, told the same news conference that Northern troops were placed on alert following the submarine incident.

Lee said he belonged to a unit specializing in sending spies into the South.

"If you come in by a submarine you can do it as many times as you like," he told reporters.