North Korean authorities have arrested a man on spying charges for having contact with Christians while visiting relatives in China, sources inside the isolated country said.
Kim Seung-mo, a 61-year-old resident of Hyesan city in Yanggang province, was arrested on June 3 after returning from visiting relatives in China, they said.
“I witnessed him being dragged by state security officials in front of Wiyon train station,” one source told Radio Free Asia.
Kim was shackled and tied with rope as he was dragged out from a town behind Wiyon brewery, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There were obvious signs of violent assault because the man had split lips and black eyes, and he appeared to have sustained an injury to one of his legs, the source said.
A second source who lives in Yanggang province said the man’s relatives are said to be residing in Antu, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, in northeastern China’s Jilin province
“After he came back from China, he openly told his neighbors that his relatives attended a Christian church, and the church’s pastor collected many used clothes from parishioners for him,” said the source who requested anonymity.
“It seems like someone informed state security agents about him,” he added.
The Ministry of State Security, which reports directly to leader Kim Jong Un, is the regime’s secret police force. It is known for its brutality and human rights abuses, experts say.
“All North Korean travelers returning from China are required to report their whereabouts and details about their activities,” the source said.
“In Kim’s case, he was arrested on charges of spying because he did not report that his relatives are churchgoers and that the church pastor helped him,” he said.
North Korea views Christianity as a contemptible Western religion.