Aijalon Mahli Gomes admittedly crossed into North Korea illegally and, for that crime, he’s been sentenced to eight years hard labor and fined $700,000.
Gomes had worked as an English teacher in South Korea, and reportedly crossed the border from China on 25 January.
Swedish diplomats were allowed to attend the trial, as the US has no diplomatic presence in North Korea.
Gomes, described by colleagues as a devout Christian, was also fined 70 million won ($700,000; £460,000 at the official exchange rate). It is not clear why he entered North Korea.
Despite the jail sentence, analysts suggested Gomes could be freed before too long as Pyongyang tries to improve bilateral relations with the US.
“The North is not going to hold him for eight years,” Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Seoul’s Dongguk University told the AFP news agency.
“It is likely to suspend the implementation of the sentence and expel him as a goodwill gesture toward the United States.”