A Korean-American in detention in North Korea is in fact a Christian pastor, not a spy, according to a North Korean defector who met him in 2007, say Reuters.

On 11 Jan., the American broadcaster, CNN, was allowed to interview Kim Dong Chul in the presence of North Korean officials. He admitted he had been spying for South Korea, for which he was arrested in October 2015.

On 12 Jan., the defector, Ma Young-ae, told Reuters that she had met Kim Dong Chul in the United States, where he had told church gatherings he was a missionary helping North Koreans.

CNN, who said it “cannot determine whether Kim Dong Chul was making his claims under duress”, was also allowed to interview Korean-Canadian pastor Hyeun-soo Lim, who was last year sentenced to life in prison after “confessing” to charges of attempting to overthrow the North Korean government.

On 13 Jan., the country was revealed to be the worst place to be a Christian for the 14th consecutive year by the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List.