A Lynnwood man is reportedly being held by the government of North Korea.
The New York Times reported Thursday that 44-year-old Kenneth Bae was detained in early November, while escorting five European tourists through the North Korean city of Rajin. The paper said Bae runs a travel company that specializes in taking tourists and potential investors to North Korea.
KOMO-4 and the Everett Herald reported that Bae is from Lynnwood, and public records show a person of that name living in the town north of Seattle.
One South Korean newspaper reported that North Korean security officials were concerned about a computer hard disk that Bae had with him.
State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said Friday that the agency is aware of the reports, but declined to elaborate, citing privacy considerations.
Washington State Rep. Cindy Ryu, who was born in South Korea, said Friday that she is trying to contact Bae’s family and find out more about the situation. “It’s not unusual for the North Koreans to hold one or more people back, out of a group,” she said. “Just to show they have total control.”
Rep. Jim McDermott’s office is also looking into the situation.