News / Asia

US Prisoner in N. Korea Marks Birthday

Protester holds portrait of American missionary Kenneth Bae during anti-North Korea rally in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 16, 2014.
Protester holds portrait of American missionary Kenneth Bae during anti-North Korea rally in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 16, 2014.
Sungwon Baik

The family of Kenneth Bae, an American imprisoned in North Korea, celebrated his 46th birthday Friday without him.

“Happy birthday, Jun-ho!” said his mother Myung-hee Bae when asked to send a message to Bae during a phone interview with the VOA Korean service. The Baes are of Korean ethnicity and Jun-ho is Kenneth Bae’s Korean name.

“My heart is hurting because I can’t spend today with you, but I love you and hope you are enduring well,” his mother added.

Bae was convicted by North Korea last year on charges of planning to overthrow the government. He was working as an Evangelical Christian Missionary when he was arrested by Pyongyang in November 2012. He was later sentenced to 15 years in prison.

His mother adorned the birthday dinner table with some of Bae’s favorite dishes.

“He really likes meat,” said Myung-hee with a sigh while speaking from the Bae residence in the western state of Washington.

Around 7 p.m. Bae’s supporters joined the family in a prayer session wishing for his swift and safe return.

Journalist Euna Lee, who was also detained in the North for almost five months back in 2009, joined the prayer efforts. 

She and fellow journalist Laura Ling were detained in North Korea after they briefly crossed into the reclusive state from China without visas while working for Current TV.

They were freed in August of 2009 during a special humanitarian visit by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

“[Kenneth Bae] is already spending his second birthday in North Korea," Lee said during a phone conversation with VOA. "I hope his next birthday will be celebrated here with his family.”

Lee said she can only imagine the amount of suffering Bae is going through. The missionary detention in the communist country is now four times as long as her own was.

“The time I spent imprisoned in the North felt like 10 years," she said. "I know it must be hard for him but hope he remembers there is always light at the end of a tunnel, no matter how long and dark it is.”

Myung-hee Bae has done everything she could have done for her son’s release, including urging Secretary of State John Kerry to make proactive efforts toward his release.

The 70-year-old even flew to North Korea last October and reunited with her emaciated son and urged Pyongyang to show generosity in letting him go. Washington has also called on Pyongyang to free Bae as a humanitarian gesture.

Bae suffers from heart and back problems and is one of three Americans being held in North Korea.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 05, 2014 12:29 PM
North Korea is holding him to be release at an opportune moment to attract some international attention such as asking Bill Clinton to come to collect another prisoner to be released. This might happen again. The Kim leaders like that kind of game playing at the expense of a victim's liberty.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid