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Topic: north korea

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November 18, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Clapper on lessons learned after North Korea’s release of Kenneth Bae

Kenneth Bae has been reunited with his Lynnwood-area family for a little more than a week now, and the details of his rescue continue to fascinate.

James Clapper, the U.S. intelligence director, detailed his secret trip to North Korea on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” Watch the video below:

Here’s the takeaway: This was not exactly a slam-dunk mission. The Obama administration had good reason to keep it a secret until the two Americans, Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, were safely on board a flight back to the U.S.

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Comments | Topics: diplomacy, face the nation, james clapper

November 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM

A sweet and long-awaited homecoming for Kenneth Bae

This photo of Kenneth Bae greeting his mother, Myunghee Bae, speaks a million words.

Kenneth Bae, who had been held in North Korea since 2012, greets his mother Myunghee Bae after arriving, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., after they were freed during a top-secret mission by James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Kenneth Bae greets his mother Myunghee Bae after arriving Nov. 8 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

On the first anniversary of her son’s arrest on Nov. 3, 2012, the elder Bae wrote a Seattle Times guest column outlining her anguish over his imprisonment. Considering reports he had been hospitalized at least twice for health problems, Bae appeared robust Saturday night as he stepped off the plane at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

How sweet to witness this peaceful outcome for the Bae family. Imagine what these last two years have been like for them; not knowing when, whether and in what condition their loved one would be released by arguably the most unpredictable and secretive regime in the world.

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Comments | Topics: diplomacy, kenneth bae, north korea

February 11, 2014 at 8:27 AM

North Korea claims Kenneth Bae not a political pawn? Prove it

North Korean officials said months ago that American prisoner Kenneth Bae would not be used as a political pawn. Their latest action suggests they’ve changed their mind.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Sunday that North Korean officials had rescinded a second invitation for a special American envoy to fly to Pyongyang to meet with Bae. According to this Associated Press news story, the cancellation “signals an apparent protest of upcoming annual military drills between Washington and Seoul and an alleged mobilization of U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers during training near the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls the planned drills a rehearsal for invasion, a claim the allies deny.”

North Korean leaders would be wise to let Bae — imprisoned for 15 months now — return to his family before his health deteriorates any further. Bae is not a public official or representative of the U.S. government. He entered the country numerous times as a tour operator before he was detained in November 2012. He is a father, husband, son and brother, and a man of faith who has apologized (possibly under duress) to the North Korean regime for whatever crimes they claim he committed.

The Seattle Times editorial board has published numerous editorials in support of a humanitarian release for Bae. Below is video of CNN’s social media campaign, launched last Friday, to raise awareness about Bae’s plight.

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The former Lynnwood resident’s family says he has been transferred from a hospital back into a labor camp to  continue a 15-year sentence. Here’s an excerpt of their latest public statement:

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Comments | Topics: kenneth bae, north korea, state department

February 7, 2014 at 6:06 AM

President Obama says a prayer for Kenneth Bae

Former Washington resident Kenneth Bae gained an important ally on Thursday when President Barack Obama personally called for his release from a North Korean labor camp.

The president mentioned Bae in his remarks during Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast, which can be viewed at about the 16:39 mark in this video from the White House’s YouTube channel:

The Seattle Times has written numerous editorials (including this latest one posted Jan. 26) encouraging the U.S. State Department to help Bae’s family, based in Edmonds and Lynnwood. The 45-year-old American citizen was captured in November 2012 while guiding tourists through North Korea.

Obama’s attention to this issue can only help. On Wednesday, Reuters reports the four last surviving members of Congress to serve in the Korean War wrote a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asking for Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds.

Hopefully, the North Koreans take notice.

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Comments | More in Video | Topics: kenneth bae, north korea, Obama

January 30, 2014 at 6:07 AM

Kenneth Bae’s family attends SOTU, seeks more help

Good on Washington’s congressional delegates for meeting this week with Kenneth Bae’s family. Here’s a link to the editorial board’s Monday editorial calling on officials in D.C. to keep up their efforts to help free the former Lynnwood resident and American tour operator from a North Korean prison, where he has been locked for nearly 15 months.

Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, his mother, Myunghee Bae and his son, Jonathan Bae, have spent the last several days raising awareness of Bae’s plight in New York City and in the nation’s capitol. On Tuesday, Chung and the elder Bae attended President Obama’s State of the Union address as the guests of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, and U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.

If you’re just learning about Bae’s case, watch Chung talk about her brother with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell below:

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On Tuesday, the family met for the first time with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (Scroll down to read their official statement after the talk.) One day later, both Larsen and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., sent press releases to the media promising they will continue to advocate on the family’s behalf. Murray said she will keep pressuring top U.S. State Department officials “to engage the North Korean government directly and bring Mr. Bae back to the United States.”

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Comments | Topics: congress, kenneth bae, north korea

January 16, 2014 at 6:15 AM

As Kenneth Bae remains imprisoned, PBS ‘Frontline’ exposes real North Korea

If you want to get a real sense of life inside North Korea, stop looking at the photos of Dennis Rodman’s ill-advised trip earlier this month to Pyongyang to celebrate Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

Instead, watch the latest “Frontline” from PBS called “Secret State of North Korea.” Here’s the trailer:

Director Jim Jones worked with journalists to obtain grainy, sometimes-horrifying video from inside the country. Glimpses of daily life there show mass oppression, orphaned children, fake luxury storefronts, and over-the-top efforts to exalt Kim’s image.

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Comments | More in Video | Topics: frontline, kenneth bae, north korea

January 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Forget Dennis Rodman’s tearful apology, shift attention to Kenneth Bae

A defiant and visibly emotional Dennis Rodman faced a throng of reporters after landing in Beijing over the weekend.

Watch the CNN video below:

[do action="custom_iframe" url="http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/01/13/penhaul-china-rodmans-tearful-return.cnn" width="630" height="380" scrolling=""/]

Regardless of his tearful non-apology apology, the former NBA player deserves to stay atop the “loser of the week” list a while longer. That’s what he gets for throwing fellow American Kenneth Bae under the bus. In a ridiculous CNN interview last week, Rodman suggested Bae deserved his 15-year sentence in a North Korean labor camp. Oh, that was just a drunken rant, he later said in a written statement, spurred on by the stress of realizing he’s the only guy in the room defending a brutal dictator.

The Worm’s style of “basketball diplomacy” is about as bad as his attempt to channel Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. But at least the collapse of his latest goodwill efforts will remind the world that Kenneth Bae is experiencing serious health complications under the watch of Kim Jong Un’s prison guards.

Jack Ohman/Op Art

Jack Ohman/Op Art

Lucky for Rodman, Bae’s family in Washington state issued a statement last Thursday accepting his apology:

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, diplomacy, kenneth bae

January 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Kenneth Bae’s sister calls Dennis Rodman’s comments ‘appalling’

Fresh off her appearance on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ Tuesday evening, Terri Chung continued to express frustration over Dennis Rodman’s latest comments about Kenneth Bae, her imprisoned brother in North Korea.

Terri Chung holds a letter sent from her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Terri Chung holds up a photo of her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In a phone interview afterward, Chung said she was awakened at 4 a.m. to the news of Rodman’s meltdown during his morning appearance with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. (I wrote about that in this Opinion NW blog post.)

“I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing for him to say he’s not a diplomat that he’s not going to advocate for Kenneth Bae. He’s refused to help. That’s his choice,” she said. “But then he throws these accusations at Kenneth when he clearly has no clue what he’s talking about. It was appalling and beyond me.”

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. Bae, the latest of several Americans jailed by North Korea in recent years, has already waited longer for his freedom than any of the others had to. But as his health deteriorates, Washington and Pyongyang appear unable to negotiate, each wary of giving concessions to the other. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae.  (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

Chung said the recent news of political purges and executions in Pyongyang has elevated her concerns for her brother’s safety. The family was able to speak to him on the phone Dec. 29. The 45-year-old tour operator told them he remains hospitalized with severe back problems. Chung says Bae spoke to his children for the first time since his detainment began in November 2012.

“He misses them and he wants to come home,” she said. “I just don’t want Kenneth to be forgotten. And I also don’t want Kenneth to be used as a media story. This isn’t some game. Dennis Rodman can play all the publicity stunts he wants with his own self, but this isn’t a game. This is someone’s life, a father of three who deserves to come home.”

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Comments | Topics: bill richardson, cnn, david stern

December 20, 2013 at 6:05 AM

Dennis Rodman, please don’t forget Kenneth Bae

Dennis Rodman’s third trip to Pyongyang this year should be more than just another publicity stunt. The fact remains: no other American has had this level or frequency of access to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Once again, we have to hope that in between coaching North Korean basketball players for Kim’s Jan. 8 birthday invitational, Rodman will bend the supreme leader’s ear and mention Kenneth Bae’s name.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman walks with Vice Minister of North Korea's Sports Ministry, Son Kwang Ho, as Rodman arrives at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman walks with Vice Minister of North Korea’s Sports Ministry, Son Kwang Ho, as Rodman arrives at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

Make this “sports diplomacy” outing mean something real.

According to a CBS News report, Rodman was quoted in Beijing on Thursday saying, “I know (Kim) is waiting for me to come back. So hopefully we will have some conversation about some things that’s going to help the world.”

Help the world? How about starting with one guy: Kenneth Bae. If Rodman has a chance to ask for Bae’s humanitarian release, he should take it.

The former Washington resident and tour operator has been imprisoned for more than one year— longer than any other American in recent memory. The details of his alleged crimes have never been fully released by the secretive regime, other than to accuse Bae of “hostile acts” and trying to topple the government. The regime sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. He was hospitalized over the summer.

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, diplomacy, kenneth bae

October 10, 2013 at 4:59 PM

North Korea should allow prison visits for Kenneth Bae’s mother

Myunghee Bae couldn’t wait any longer. On Wednesday, the 68-year-old mother of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae traveled to Pyongyang on her own.

“She just wanted to see her son,” says Terri Chung, Bae’s sister in Edmonds, Snohomish County.

Terri Chung, left, and her mother, Myunghee Bae, right, look at a letter sent from their brother and son, Kenneth Bae, as they sit in Bae's home Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. Kenneth Bae, an American tour operator and Christian missionary, has been detained in North Korea since being arrested in November, 2012, and his family is renewing calls for his release as concerns about his health increase. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Terri Chung, left, and her mother, Myunghee Bae, right, look at a letter sent from their brother and son, Kenneth Bae, as they sit in Bae’s home on Aug. 7 in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

What makes this trip remarkable is that the North Koreans granted Bae permission to enter the country for five days. If they allow prison visits, she will be the first American to see Kenneth Bae since he was detained on Nov. 3, 2012. Last spring, the government sentenced the former tour operator to 15 years of hard labor for “hostile acts” against the regime. In August, Bae was hospitalized after losing nearly 50 pounds and suffering from complications due to an enlarged heart and diabetes.

On Thursday, the family released this video message, recorded before Myunghee left the U.S.:

Again, this is a unique situation following several failed attempts by much higher-profile figures to secure Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds. So far, the North Koreans have rebuffed various pleas from the U.S. State Department, Swedish diplomats, former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and former NBA player Dennis Rodman (via Twitter).

We shouldn’t expect North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un to give in to American demands, but I hope he’ll at least listen to a mother’s plea for her son’s safety. Let her see him. Better yet, let her bring Kenneth Bae home.

Here’s Myunghee Bae’s official statement:

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Comments | Topics: diplomacy, kenneth bae, north korea

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