SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea said Friday it is intensifying its investigation into a South Korean worker detained on suspicion of denouncing the communist nation's government, indicating it had no intention of releasing him any time soon.
The man was detained March 30 at an industrial complex in North Korea that the two neighboring countries jointly operate.
South Korea has pressed for his release, saying his arrest violates human rights guidelines and accords on the operation of the complex, which contains more than 100 South Korean-run factories. The North has rejected these arguments.
The worker, identified as Yu Song-jin, "malignantly slandered the dignified system," said a statement from the North's agency in charge of the complex. "A competent institution is now carrying on a deep-going investigation into the case," it said, without elaborating on the charges against him.
The detention came after the North arrested two U.S. journalists on March 17 for allegedly crossing into the North illegally from China and committing "hostile acts." The North said last week it decided to try the two women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who work for San Francisco-based Current TV, a media venture founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Relations between North and South Korea have frayed rapidly since the South's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February last year with a pledge to get tough on Pyongyang and its nuclear ambitions.
North Korea responded by cutting off reconciliation talks and key joint projects that were launched under Lee's two liberal predecessors as part of their sunshine policy of engaging the North.
The factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong is the only major remaining joint project.