An American student who was presumed dead after going missing in China in 2004 has reportedly turned up alive in North Korea where he is surviving as Kim Jong Un's personal tutor.

David Sneddon, a Mormon missionary from Brigham Young University disappeared in Yunnan Province more than a decade ago aged 24. Chinese police said at the time it was probably a hiking accident and that he was most likely dead.

Yahoo News Japan reported Choi Sung-yong, the head of South Korea's Abductees' Family Union, as saying Mr Sneddon was kidnapped to be an English tutor to the then-heir.

David Sneddon of Brigham Young University disappeared in China in 2004. Photo / Bringing David Sneddon home Facebook
David Sneddon of Brigham Young University disappeared in China in 2004. Photo / Bringing David Sneddon home Facebook

The website says that Mr Sneddon now lives in Pyongyang, has a wife and two children.

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The US Department of State has announced that it would conduct an active search for him in North Korea, Desert News Utah reported.

His parents Roy and Kathleen Sneddon have long believed that he was kidnapped and have spent the past 12 years travelling to China and setting up social media campaigns to try and find their son.

"We just knew in our heart that he was alive, so we had to keep fighting," said Kathleen Sneddon.

Yunnan Province is used by those trying to escape North Korea as a route to the rest of Asia. The Sneddons believe that their son was targeted because he can speak fluent Korean, which was helpful when he was a Mormon missionary in South Korea prior to his kidnapping.

Utah Republicans Chris Stewart and Senator Mike Lee presented joint Resolution to the House of Representatives and the Senate urging action to find out what happened to Mr Sneddon.

"Even though it may be difficult, it's the duty of the United States government to follow all leads to locate a missing citizen" Mr Stewart said in a statement. "The evidence indicates that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about David's disappearance.

Head of South Korea's Abductees' Family Union, as saying David Sneddon was kidnapped to be an English tutor for Kim Jong-Un. Photo / Supplied
Head of South Korea's Abductees' Family Union, as saying David Sneddon was kidnapped to be an English tutor for Kim Jong-Un. Photo / Supplied

"David's family deserves answers to those questions, and until we find those answers I will continue urging the state department to pursue all possible explanations for David's disappearance," he said.

They politicians hope their resolution is voted on by the end of the year.