Rason city
File photo of a Chinese visitor posing for a picture next to a portrait of then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at an auditorium in Rason city REUTERS

North Korea will begin a trial against a U.S. citizen, who was detained last year after he entered North Korea from China, on charges of carrying out hostile acts against the government in Pyongyang, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Saturday.

Pae Jun-Ho, known in the U.S as Kenneth Bae, is a Korean-American tour operator who lived in Washington State and traveled with a group of businessmen in November last year from Yanji, China, to the North Korean Special Economic Zone of Rason, where he was arrested, the New York Times reported.

The trial comes at a time of simmering tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

During investigations, Bae “admitted his criminal plot to overthrow our republic out of hostility,” the KCNA said. It added that his crime was “clearly substantiated by evidence.”

It is not clear what kind of punishment Bae, 44, might face, although North Korea's criminal code provides for life imprisonment or the death penalty for similar offences, according to the BBC. The accused in the North have only a single chance to appeal their verdict.

The KCNA did not specify when the trial will be held, but said “the preliminary inquiry into crimes committed” by Bae was closed.

Under the criminal code of North Korea, prosecutors are required to file their formal indictment within 10 days of the completion of the investigation. Then a court rules on the case within 25 days, according to the NYT.