South Korean missionary Kim Jong-uk, who is detained in North Korea, has appeared before media to read from a statement publicly apologizing for “anti-state crimes”.
Kim Jong-uk, 50, said he was arrested after entering via China with religious materials in October.
Religious activity is restricted in North Korea, with missionaries arrested on multiple occasions in the past.
Foreign nationals arrested in North Korea sometimes make public confessions which they later say were under duress.
Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old US national, was briefly held last year. He was freed after confessing to committing crimes during the Korean War – a statement he said was given under duress.
Kim Jong-uk has appeared before North Korean media to read an apology
In his first public appearance since his arrest, Kim Jong-uk said he wanted to let his family know he was in good health.
He said he acted “under directions” from South Korea’s National Intelligence Services (NIS), setting up an underground church in Dandong, China, to collect information on life in North Korea to send back.
“I was thinking of turning North Korea into a religious country, and destroying its present government and political system,” Kim Jong-uk also told the news conference.
One report said Kim Jong-uk had been working in Dandong for seven years helping North Korean refugees.
Kim Jong-uk said he was unsure of his punishment and asked that he be released.
The North Korean state media in November said it had arrested an unnamed South Korean “spy”, a charge which South Korea’s intelligence agency denied.
On Thursday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry urged North Korea to release and repatriate Kim Jong-uk.
King Juan Carlos of Spain has apologized to his people for going on a hunting trip in Botswana while his country was in the midst of an economic crisis.
The king’s trip to Botswana, which was widely criticized, emerged after he was flown home for treatment for a fractured hip.
“I’m very sorry, I made a mistake. It won’t happen again,” King Juan Carlos said, as he left San Jose hospital in Madrid.
It was widely reported that the king had been hunting elephants, which the royal house has neither confirmed nor denied.
King Juan Carlos, 74, broke his hip falling on a step and was flown home by private jet. He underwent hip replacement surgery on Saturday.
After news of his visit to Botswana was revealed, many Spanish newspapers published an earlier photo of the king on safari, in which he is seen standing with a gun beside a dead elephant.
is honorary president of the Spanish branch of conservation group WWF and an online petition calling for his resignation had accumulated almost 85,000 signatures by the time he made his public apology.
Spain is the fourth biggest economy in the eurozone but has seen its debt crisis worsen and its borrowing costs increase. It currently has a 23% unemployment rate and there are fears it could return to recession.
The king had faced a public outcry for going to Africa and quite probably hunting elephants when a lot of people were facing the harsh reality of an economic crisis.
Although the leaders of the ruling Popular Party and Socialists had declined to comment on the controversy, the Socialists’ leader in Madrid Tomas Gomez suggested the king should choose between his “public responsibilities, or an abdication”.
El Pais newspaper reported that the royal house had considered its response carefully and that the king had decided to speak publicly before the television cameras rather than leave the matter to a palace statement.
King Juan Carlos is generally popular in Spain but the royal family has recently been beset by a series of embarrassing news stories.
His son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, has been questioned about a corruption scandal that involves claims that he used public funds to organize sports events. He has been suspended from taking part in royal engagements.
Only last week, the king’s grandson, 13-year-old Felipe Juan Froilan, was himself taken to hospital after an incident involving a gun. He shot himself in the foot during target practice outside the family home.