Published On: Sun, May 5th, 2013

North Korea says Kenneth Bae, sentenced US citizen, is not a bargaining tool

North Korea said on Sunday it had no intention of using an American it sentenced to hard labor for 15 years as a bargaining chip in talks with the United States.

North Korea flag

North Korea flag

This week North Korea sentenced Kenneth Bae, a Korean American who traveled to visit North Korea last November, for what is said were crimes against the state. Reports immediately alluded to the fact that the regime was seeking bargaining counters in dealings with the United States. But the North’s state news agency dismissed speculation it might do so again.

“Some media of the U.S. said that the DPRK tried to use Bae’s case as a political bargaining chip. This is ridiculous and wrong guess,” the KCNA news agency reported, citing a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

Friends of Bae, age 44, say the man is a devout Christian and went to the country to help feed orphans. Bae was was born in South Korea but is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

His sentencing comes after two months threats and pandering which saw North Korea threaten the United States and South Korea with nuclear war.

Human rights activists in South Korea say Bae may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children. A U.S. official said last week Washington was not looking for an envoy to try to secure Bae’s release.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States had sought in recent years to break out of a pattern of having to resolve repeated crises with North Korea through deals.

The U.S. State Department urged North Korea to grant Bae amnesty and immediate release.

The North’s ministry spokesman said the Bae case showed the United States had not changed its “hostile” policy.

“As long as the U.S. hostile policy goes on, Americans’ illegal acts should be countered with strict legal sanctions. This is a conclusion drawn by the DPRK,” the KCNA news agency reported.

In the past, prominent Americans including former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have traveled to North Korea to try to free detained Americans.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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