'Hostage Diplomacy': North Korea Using Detained Americans as Leverage, Experts Say - NBC4 Washington
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'Hostage Diplomacy': North Korea Using Detained Americans as Leverage, Experts Say



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    This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 5, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (center) inspecting the defense detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defense Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front.

    Kim Jong Un is adding a new wrinkle on the long-standing North Korean strategy of detaining U.S. citizens to use as bargaining chips, experts tell NBC News.

    U.S. citizen Kim Hak Song was taken into custody Saturday for "hostile acts against the republic," according to state media, bringing the total number of Americans held in the Hermit Kingdom to four.

    Unlike his father, who brought the U.S. to the negotiation table by detaining Americans, Kim Jong Un is using prisoners to protect himself, analysts said.

    "Kim Jong Un is using hostage diplomacy as a part of his military and defense strategy with focus on preventing the U.S. from removing him from power as well as to prevent the U.S. from taking military options against North Korea," said Dr. An Chan Il, president of the World Institute for North Korea Studies and a defector.

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    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for North Korea's "financial isolation" at a U.N. Security Council meeting in April 2017. Tillerson also threatened sanctions on countries that continue to trade with North Korea, singling out China.

    (Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017)