News / Asia

Report: US Missionary Jailed in N. Korea Feels 'Abandoned'

American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.
American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.
VOA News

A pro-North Korean newspaper is reporting that a Korean-American missionary imprisoned by Pyongyang feels "abandoned" by the United States government.

It has been nearly two years since Kenneth Bae was arrested by the North and later sentenced to 15 years hard labor on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

The Japan-based Chosun Sinbo newspaper said Thursday that Bae is disappointed that no resolution is in sight, despite Washington's insistence it is doing all it can to help.

Pyongyang has rejected two proposed visits by U.S. special envoy Robert King to help win Bae's release. Many think the North wants a more senior figure to visit.

In his interview, Bae requested the U.S. send an official that Pyongyang can accept so that his problem can be resolved. But he said it would need to be someone other than King.

Bae also said his health problems are getting worse and may deteriorate further if he is transferred, as planned, to a labor camp from the hospital where he is now.

Bargaining chip

Many observers have said North Korea is trying to use Bae as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from Washington or as a desperate bid for political legitimacy.

High-ranking former U.S. officials have in the past flown to Pyongyang and successfully convinced North Korea to release detained Americans.

North Korean state propaganda has portrayed the visits domestically as trips meant to pay respects to the country's authoritarian leaders.

Bae, a missionary and businessman, was detained in November 2012 while leading a tour group. North Korea said he used his tourism business to form groups aimed at overthrowing the government.

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