News / Asia

N. Korea Sentences American to 15 Years Hard Labor

Passersby watch a local television broadcast in Seoul on May 2, 2013 showing a report and picture of Kenneth Bae (R), a Korean-American tour operator detained in North Korea, against the background of a North Korean flag painted on the wall of a building
Passersby watch a local television broadcast in Seoul on May 2, 2013 showing a report and picture of Kenneth Bae (R), a Korean-American tour operator detained in North Korea, against the background of a North Korean flag painted on the wall of a building
North Korea says an American citizen arrested last year has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being convicted of hostile acts against the reclusive state.

In a terse three-sentence dispatch, the official Korean Central News Agency said Thursday that Pae Jun-ho, known as Kenneth Bae in the United States, was convicted by the country's supreme court, Tuesday.

According to KCNA, Bae was arrested November 3, 2012 while “committing hostile acts” after entering Rason City as a tourist.

Rason is a special economic zone bordering China and Russia.

North Korean officials have not specified Bae's alleged crime. But in previous dispatches they accused him of attempting to overthrow the government.

Kim Yoon-tae, the secretary general of the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, said Pyongyang may be using the case as leverage to pressure or negotiate with the United States.

Kim said it appears North Korea wants to induce a visit by a high-ranking American, such as former presidents Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter, or the State Department's special envoy for North Korean human rights, Robert King.

South Korean media report that Carter is making preparations to go to North Korea. In 2010, he secured the release of another American there accused of similar crimes.

Kim said such a visit might help shift Pyongyang from a mode of confrontation to dialogue.

He said, although North Korea would use such a visit to request the resumption of food aid or formal talks, it likely can be expected to also use the visit for domestic propaganda purposes.

Related - Experts: Sentence of American a Bargaining Chip for N. Korea

Kim says previous visits by former American presidents portrayed them as acquiescing to the North Korean leadership. He said that allows Pyongyang to claim to its own people that it is on an equal footing with the strongest country in the world.

US Citizens Detained by North Korea

  • 2013 - Kenneth Bae sentenced to 15 years hard labor for plotting to overthrow the government.
  • 2011 - Eddie Jun Yong-su detained for apparent missionary-related activities. Released following visit by U.S. delegation.
  • 2010 - Christian activist Aijalon Mahli Gomes sentenced to eight years hard labor. Release secured by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
  • 2009 - Christian missionary Robert Park beaten and detained for 43 days before being released.
  • 2009 - Journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling sentenced to 12 years hard labor. Release secured by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Seoul says the American government is seeking to confirm the report of Bae's sentencing, via the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang.  The United States and North Korea have no diplomatic relations.

Asked about the case Tuesday, a State Department spokesman called the welfare of U.S. citizens "a critical and top priority.”

Friends describe Bae as a tour operator and devout Christian who traveled frequently to the impoverished and reclusive country to feed orphans.

His ill-fated trip there last year was with a tour group.

Five other Americans have been detained in North Korea in recent years. All were eventually deported or released, some after the personal intervention of prominent Americans who went to Pyongyang to secure their freedom.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Photogallery US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid