Topic: Kenneth Bae
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August 30, 2013 at 4:34 PM
North Korea rescinded an invitation to a U.S. envoy who was to travel to Pyongyang on Friday to negotiate for the release of an imprisoned Lynnwood man.
Family members of Kenneth Bae, who was detained last November and accused of committing “hostile acts” against North Korea, said in a news release that they were disappointed but “have faith that the DPRK (the People’s Republic of Korea) and U.S. diplomats will resume talks soon.” Bae, 45, accused of committing “hostile acts” against North Korea, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in April.
“We appreciate the work that the State Department and the Obama administration have been doing and have pledged to do for Kenneth’s release,” the release continued. “We miss Kenneth and remain concerned about his health.”
Terri Chung, Bae’s sister, penned an editorial in The Seattle Times last month describing in detail the family’s reaction to seeing video footage released of Bae working in a North Korean labor camp and pleading for the U.S. to help him.
“We are not giving up hope for a peaceful and timely resolution,” the family’s release said.
August 28, 2013 at 5:01 PM
TOKYO — A senior U.S. envoy who will travel to North Korea later this week said Wednesday that he plans to strongly appeal for the release of a Lynnwood man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by the authoritarian state but added that Washington has received no guarantees from Pyongyang the ailing man will be freed.
Bob King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, said during a stopover in Tokyo that the United States is increasingly concerned about the health of 45-year-old Kenneth Bae, a tour operator and Christian missionary who was arrested last November and accused of committing “hostile acts” against North Korea. (more…)
August 27, 2013 at 3:23 PM
WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. envoy will travel to North Korea this week to seek the release of a Lynnwood man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the authoritarian country, the State Department said Tuesday.
The visit by Bob King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will be the first public trip to North Korea by an administration official in more than two years and could provide an opening for an improvement in relations severely strained by Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. (more…)
August 26, 2013 at 8:05 PM
The U.S. is pressing North Korea to release a Korean-American Lynnwood resident, who has been held for nine months on charges of trying to overthrow the communist regime, the Yonhap news agency reports.
Kenneth Bae, who is based in China, was traveling in North Korea in November when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, Yonhap reported.
“We’ve requested the North release Mr. Bae on humanitarian grounds. His health is suffering. … We hope they will listen to our request,” Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, told reporters in Seoul.
The envoy, however, refused to elaborate on whether the U.S. government has made any progress in its discussions with Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, to win Bae’s release, according to the Yonhap report.
July 3, 2013 at 11:18 AM
A Lynnwood man sentenced to hard labor in North Korea has asked his captors to “forgive” him and for the U.S. to “try harder” to bring him home.
In an interview with Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan, Kenneth Bae spoke in Korean and said he has been working at the prison’s farm.
“I work from morning until dinner time – eight hours a day,” Bae said in the interview obtained by CNN. “People here are very considerate, so I’m not working too hard.”
Bae was working as an American tour operator in China when he was arrested last November after crossing the border into North Korea. He was subsequently found guilty of “hostile acts” against North Korea and sentenced to 15 years in the country’s notorious labor-camp system.
In the video, Bae said he hoped he could be released before July 4, his father’s 70th birthday.
April 26, 2013 at 9:05 PM
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea said Saturday it will soon put a detained American from Lynnwood on trial for allegedly trying to overthrow the government, further complicating already fraught relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
The indictment of Kenneth Bae comes in the middle of something of a lull after weeks of war threats and other provocative acts by North Korea against the U.S. and South Korea. It has expressed rage over U.N. sanctions over a February nuclear test and ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills, though analysts say Pyongyang’s motive is to get its Korean War foes to negotiate on its own terms.
Bae, identified in North Korean state media by his Korean name, Pae Jun Ho, is a tour operator of Korean descent who was arrested after arriving with a tour on Nov. 3 in Rason, a special economic zone bordering China and Russia.
He is the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The other Americans were eventually deported or released after high-profile diplomatic interventions, including some involving former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Analysts say the North will likely soon hand Bae a harsh punishment to use him as a bargaining chip in possible negotiations with the United States.
“The preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by American citizen Pae Jun Ho closed,” the official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief report. “In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it. His crimes were proved by evidence.”
DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Under North Korea’s criminal code, terrorist acts include murdering, kidnapping and injuring the country’s citizens can lead to a death sentence or life in jail.
North Korea and the United States fought the 1950-53 Korean War and still don’t have diplomatic relations. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the United States.
KCNA didn’t say when Bae’s trial will take place or what the charges were.
North Korea’s state media and the U.S. government have made little information about Bae public.
But his friends, colleagues and South Korean activists specializing in North Korea affairs said Bae is a Christian missionary based in a Chinese border town who frequently made trips to North Korea to feed orphans there. It is not known whether he tried to evangelize while in North Korea.
Officially, North Korea guarantees freedom of religion. In practice, authorities crack down on Christians, who are seen as Western-influenced threats to the government. The distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services can mean banishment to a labor camp or execution, defectors from the country have said.
In 2009, American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for trespassing and unspecified hostile acts. They were freed later that year after former President Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang to negotiate their release.
December 14, 2012 at 9:28 AM
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.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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