North Korea says expels U.S. aid worker for 'anti-state conspiracy'

Wed Apr 8, 2015 10:09am EDT
 
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SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Wednesday it was expelling an American aid worker for engaging in what it said was a conspiracy against the state, just weeks after the country ejected a German aid worker.

The North's official KCNA news agency said the U.S. citizen it named as Sandra Suh had "produced pictures and videos with an aversion to the Republic under the disguise of 'humanitarianism' and used them" in a propaganda campaign against the country.

"Sandra Suh admitted ... her criminal activities and apologized, seeking generous forgiveness. Out of generosity, the related agency took into consideration her age and decided to expel her from its territory," KCNA said.

KCNA did not give her affiliation, but Los Angeles-based Wheat Mission Ministries says on its website that Sandra Suh began the group's work in 1989 to aid North Koreans, and that it was formally established as a non-profit organization in 2005.

A Wheat Mission official could not immediately be reached outside office hours early on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

After a famine in the 1990s that killed as many as one million people, the food situation in North Korea has improved but the isolated country continues to rely on foreign aid to feed its people.

KCNA said Suh had visited the country a number of times since 1998 and its authorities recently conducted an investigation into her activities.

A week ago, German aid agency Welthungerhilfe said its country director had been expelled without explanation in late February, and that another staffer with the agency left in March of his own volition.

The abrupt departures of the Welthungerhilfe staff came as a surprise to members of the small foreign community in Pyongyang, according to a regular visitor who wished to remain anonymous, citing the sensitive nature of working there.

Earlier this year, North Korea detained the head pastor of one of Canada's largest congregations, who went missing during a regular humanitarian mission in February, a church spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Tony Munroe and Crispian Balmer)