A BRITISH so-called "spy kid" narrowly avoided a death sentence in North Korea after officials botched a search of his phone, missing a secret video he filmed of a suspicious train.
Sam Chamberlain, 18, filmed what he believed to be a sanctions-busting secret train in the rogue state, according to The Sun.
The tourist, from Somerset, South West England, said he believed he spotted a wagon topped with straw in an apparent bid to fool satellites and drones.
"It was nerve-wracking when my camera was checked because I'd already videoed the train," he said.
"But thankfully the minder didn't watch the footage long enough to see the pictures of the carriages which I believe were carrying hidden cargo."
Experts say Kim Jong-un's rogue state could be dodging curbs imposed after nuclear tests.
Sam, a former Eton College student who is on a gap year before starting university, had been on a controlled tour in North Korea and was crossing into China when he noticed the disguised cargo arriving from the opposite direction.
He secretly filmed the video of the suspicious train while his minders' backs were turned.
He also filmed packages stacked behind the walls in an area patrolled by troops.
"It looked like they were trying to hide whatever was on the train under straw," Sam said.
"It was at a remote military compound and you can see guards around the train."
North Korea is being hit with crippling UN sanctions over Kim Jong-un's nuclear missile tests.
The sanctions limit imports of oil and petroleum products, among other restrictions, but China has been accused of breaches.
North Korea expert Catherine Jones of the UK's University of Warwick, said the straw "may be to conceal the contents from outside observers".
"It is not clear to me that these videos prove a violation of sanctions, as it is not clear what the contents of the train trucks is," she said.
"The covering of trucks with straw may be to conceal the contents from outside observers.
"But it could be that these are not sanctioned goods, but are instead goods that the North Korean regime doesn't want the population to see.
"There needs to be some further analysis of this footage before a conclusion can be drawn."
Dr Jones noted China has been accused of breaching sanctions against North Korea in the past.
Recent satellite images claimed to show a Chinese oil tanker illegally transferring oil to a North Korean ship in breach of the sanctions.
One picture, reportedly taken on October 19, shows a tanker called Rye Song Gang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel, South Korea's The Chosun Ilbo reports.
China has denied any of its merchant ships were involved in sanction-breaking oil sales.
Last year, North Korea carried out its sixth and biggest nuclear test and test-fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles and has shown no willingness to give up its ambitions.
In a sign of warming relations, the rogue state agreed earlier this month to send a delegation to the Olympics, in the first formal talks between the rivals in about two years.
Its delegation at the Games, to be held in February, is to include officials, athletes, a cheering group, journalists, an art troupe and the taekwondo demonstration team.
SANCTIONS AGAINST NORTH KOREA
North Korea has been slapped with a number of sanctions over the years because its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology.
The rogue state believes the US, South Korea and Japan pose a direct threat to its existence.
In 1985, Kim Il-sung, leader at the time, signed the North up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aimed to achieve nuclear disarmament, and prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology.
But in 2003, the state withdrew claiming it was at risk of US aggression.
What sanctions does North Korea face?
• October 2006: UN Security Council (UNSC) passes Resolution 1718 which condemns North Korea's first nuclear test and demands the DPRK to not conduct anymore ballistic missile tests
• June 2009: UNSC Resolution 1874 passed which strengthens demand for DPRK to suspend all activities relating to its ballistic missile program
• January 2013: UNSC passes Resolution 2087 condemning the North's satellite launch
• March 2013: UNSC passes Resolution 2094 condemning the state's third nuclear test
• March 2016: Resolution 2270 was passed condemning DPRK's fourth nuclear test and its 2015 submarine-launched missile test
• November 2016: UNSC passes Resolution 2321 which condemns the North's fifth nuclear test and includes a ban on mineral exports and the selling of statues and helicopters
• August 2017: UNSC adopts Resolution 2371 which bans coal and iron exports and also condemns two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July
• September 2017: UNSC passes Resolution 2375 to condemn the state's sixth and largest nuclear test
• December 2017: UNSC passes Resolution 2397 which imposes new restrictions on oil imports.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.