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October 15, 2013

Mother of Missionary Jailed in N. Korea Pleads for US Help

by VOA News

The mother of an American missionary detained in North Korea is pleading for the U.S. government to make a renewed effort to win his release.

Myunghee Bae traveled to North Korea last week to visit her son, Kenneth Bae, who is just 11 months into a 15-year sentence of hard labor on a conviction of state subversion.

She said in a written statement Tuesday she was "happy to see him and hold him, but it broke my heart to leave him behind." She said she was "more anxious than ever to bring him home," and pleaded with Washington to do everything in its power to free him.

North Korea rescinded an offer in August to allow senior U.S. envoy Robert King to visit Pyongyang to petition that Bae be freed on humanitarian grounds. Officials said the visit was canceled because of annual joint U.S.-South Korean military drills being held in the South.

The 45-year-old Christian missionary was detained last year after entering North Korea as a tour operator. His family says he has diabetes and is in ill health.

Five other Americans detained in North Korea since 2009 were eventually allowed to leave without serving out their terms, some after prominent Americans, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy carter visited.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.