A naturalized American citizen detained in North Korea has reportedly confessed to stealing military secrets under the direction of the United States and South Korea, Reuters reports.

In a statement from North Korea’s KCNA news agency, Kim Dong Chul admitted to committing “unpardonable espionage.”

KCNA also released photos of a tearful Kim at a news conference, where he said his actions were “shameful and ineffaceable” while also pleading for mercy.

“The extraordinary crime I committed was defaming and insulting the republic’s highest dignity and its system and spreading false propaganda aimed at breaking down its solidarity,” Kim said, according to KCNA.

Kim, 60, was arrested in October and said he was paid to try to steal military secrets in an effort to overthrow Kim Jong-un’s regime.


Kim said he passed along intelligence to South Korean contacts, and kept information on USB memory sticks and data storage cards.

According to KCNA, Kim moved from South Korea to the United States when he was 19 and then in 2008 set up a business in Rason, the special economic zone in North Korea.

His confession comes just a week after 21-year-old American Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal a political banner.