. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Ups Pressure in Korean Spy Case


WASHINGTON -- The United States wants North Korea to release an American arrested on spy charges and is sending its top Asian diplomat to South Korea to underscore support for Seoul in a dispute over a stranded North Korean submarine.

Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord will hold talks in the South Korean capital next weekend on the ramifications of the submarine incident and other issues, the State Department announced Monday.

Swedish diplomats, who represent the United States in North Korea visited Evan Carl Hunzike twice in September. According to a cousin of the arrested man, U.S. officials are trying to arrange his release.

"We hope that he's released and allowed to return to freedom,'' State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said Monday.

American officials have released little information about Hunzike, other than that he is a U.S. citizen with an American father and South Korean mother.

Hunzike recently lived in Seattle and left there in July to visit a cousin in South Korea, according to South Korean officials. Late in the summer he left with a group to tour China. It was not known if Hunzike held a job, but he was known to read the Bible a lot, the officials said. He is divorced from a South Korean woman, they added, and his father, an American serviceman in the Korean War, had divorced Hunzike's mother, also South Korean, in 1975.

South Korean television, quoting government sources, reported Monday night that Hunzike was with a tourist group in China when he became intoxicated and crossed the river into North Korea. Earlier Monday, South Korean Foreign Ministry officials said they believe Hunzike was a missionary based in China near the North Korean border. They called the charges that he is a spy "ridiculous'' and a ploy to deflect worldwide criticism for sending a submarine full of armed infiltrators into South Korea last month.

?A history professor admitted at the opening session of his trial Tuesday that he had spied on South Korea for the past 12 years for rival North Korea.

Chung Su Il also admitted to being a North Korean having entered South Korea in 1979 posing as an Arab Filipino student named Mohamed Ali Kanso. Chung, 62, could face the death penalty if convicted of spying.