North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly supervised the successful test of a mysterious "newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon" on Friday - a move likely to be seen as a pressuring tactic in the Hermit Kingdom's campaign to get crippling sanctions lifted.
The US national, named Bruce Byron Lowrance, was detained in North Korea in October after he illegally crossed the border from China, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported, citing a message carried by the North Korean state-run News Agency (KCNA).
Oh said he felt no bitterness toward the North Korean guards whose bullets left his body "like a broken jar", as described by a South Korean surgeon to CNN previous year.
China appears to have relaxed enforcement of sanctions on Pyongyang, as relations between China and North Korea have thawed after the long-time ally of Beijing began to engage with the United States this year, a USA congressional commission said earlier this week. Washington previous year banned its citizens from travelling to North Korea without special permission, the only country for which such a restriction exists.
Sweden represents USA interests in North Korea in the absence of diplomatic relations.
The latest detained American is likely a man that South Korea deported a year ago, according to South Korean police.
Cheon adds that if Pyongyang and the United States were able to reach a deal that would allow North Korea to "continue to purchase either technical or medium-range missiles, including some nuclear capability, that is the worst nightmare that we can imagine at the moment".
He was detained in January 2016 in Pyongyang on his way home from North Korea.
Multiple senior South Korean officials close to their president have confirmed to me that this wording is Kim's way of asking for a peace treaty ending the Korean War, which was halted with an armistice agreement in 1953. "North Korea is saying 'If you don't listen to us, you will face political burdens, '" said analyst Shin Beomchul of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Even if the test was a message for Washington and Seoul, Friday's report from the North was noticeably less belligerent than past announcements of weapons tests, and didn't focus on North Korean claims of USA and South Korean hostility.
"The "United Nations Command" now becomes rather an obstacle to the improvement of inter-Korean relations for the alleviation of the situation on the Korean peninsula as well as reconciliation and cooperation between the North and the South", DPRK Today said.
South Korea's Ministry of Defense said Friday the test shouldn't be classified as a "provocation".
For its part, North Korea is demanding economic sanctions relief before it begins the process of getting rid of its nuclear weapons. Other experts suggested it might be a new, short-range missile.
"The U.S. will relax sanctions once the U.S. comes to terms that the sanctions are not really working on North Korea", he said.
Earlier this month, Cuban President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez was in North Korea for a three-day visit, where he held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on ways of bolstering bilateral cooperation in various sectors.
With relations between Beijing and Pyongyang having seemingly thawed and with China appearing to have relaxed the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, many anticipate that Xi's remarks mean that China will actively cooperate to advance US-North Korea dialogue on denuclearization.