Published On: Mon, Dec 2nd, 2013

White House calls for release of Kenneth Bae, missionary serving 15 years hard labor in North Korea

Officials in the Obama administration are urging North Korean officials to release an American missionary who has been sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in the communist country.

Kenneth Bae American Incarcerated in North Korea Image/Video Screen Shot

Kenneth Bae American Incarcerated in North Korea
Image/Video Screen Shot

Kenneth Bae was arrested near an area where Christian groups provide aid to North Koreans, especially refugees.

“We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the U.S. citizens held in custody in the DPRK,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, stated Saturday. “We continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant [Bae] amnesty and immediate release.”

While the details are sparse, Bae was accused of committing “hostile [and religious] acts to bring down the government” which may translate to taking pictures that the government found threatening.

“The most plausible scenario I can think of is that he took some pictures of the orphans, and the North Korean authorities considered that an act of anti-North Korean propaganda,” said Do Hee-youn of the Citizens’ Coalition for the Human Rights of North Korean Refugees.

A video released by CNN in August showed Bae allegedly admitting to violating North Korean law, but some are skeptical about the admission.

“There were preliminaries for three months. I wrote a statement that I violated the law upon entry to Rajin city. During the preliminaries, I admitted to this fact so I didn’t feel the need to choose a lawyer to defend my case at the trial,” he stated in the video. “I know that what I did cannot be forgiven, but my wish is for this to be solved as soon as possible and meet my family.”

According to reports, Bae has been working eight-hour days in the fields, weeding and planting beans and potatoes. He has lost a significant amount of weight since he began serving his sentence, and was hospitalized earlier this year due to failing health.

As the U.S. has expressed concern about Bae’s condition, it has called upon North Korean officials on several occasions to free the businessman and missionary. An invitation had once been extended to American representatives to discuss the matter, but it was rescinded last minute.


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  1. American Missionary Sentenced to 15 years in North Korean Prison Camp | Escape from Communist Heaven says:

    […] Earlier this year, Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for committing “hostile [and religious] acts to bring down the government.” He has been in custody since […]

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