News / USA

US Citizen Jailed in North Korea Makes Fresh Plea for Help

Korean-American Kenneth Bae appears in this undated and uncredited photo shared on Facebook.
Korean-American Kenneth Bae appears in this undated and uncredited photo shared on Facebook.
VOA News
A Korean-American imprisoned in North Korea has made a fresh appeal to the United States, saying Washington should send a high-ranking official to Pyongyang to request his release.

Kenneth Bae made the plea in an interview conducted last week and published Tuesday by the Chosun Sinbo, a Japan-based newspaper known for its pro-North Korean stance.

In the interview, Bae said he has been transferred to a hospital from a prison camp, where he had only just begun serving 15 years of hard labor after being convicted of state subversion.

The 45-year-old said his health has deteriorated, specifically mentioning that he was under-nourished and had back problems. The paper said he has lost 23 kilograms. His family said he also suffers from kidney stones, vision, heart and liver problems.

The U.S. State Department on Monday again appealed for the immediate release of Bae, who was convicted in April of trying to topple the Pyongyang government.

Korea analyst Leonid Petrov said that in the current political climate, North Korea is unlikely to simply release Bae on humanitarian grounds, as the U.S. has requested. "It theoretically is possible, but practically I doubt it is going to happen without any clear prospects of improvements in relations with the United States," he said.

North Korea has in the past tried to use the plight of jailed Americans to convince the U.S. to make diplomatic concessions. Despite the North's insistence it will not use Bae as a bargaining chip, some regional analysts think he is being used to coax the U.S. into dialogue.

But Bae's case comes at a tricky time diplomatically, with Washington tightening sanctions against North Korea in response to its latest nuclear and missile tests. Petrov, who is with the Australian National University, said the U.S. is unlikely to move away from this posture.

"The U.S. government is not interested in improving relations with the rogue state, with the self-proclaimed nuclear power, the one who threatens peace and stability in the region, looking at it from the Washington perspective," said Petrov.

Last month, there were rumors that ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter may travel to North Korea to secure Bae's release, as he did with a jailed Christian activist in 2010. A Carter spokesman later said there were no plans to make such a trip.

Stephen Noerper with the Korea Society said in an interview with VOA that Carter might, in fact, be able to win Bae's release. But he says such a trip is unlikely, in part because it would obviously serve the interests of North Korean leadership. "That's what the North Koreans are looking for in terms of a legitimizer for their new leader Kim Jong Un. And the Americans, I think, are very reticent to provide that," he said.

In the past, North Korean state media have portrayed visits by high-ranking U.S. officials and former presidents as trips to pay respects to the country's authoritarian leaders.

Bae was visited by last week by a diplomat from Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea. The Swedish Foreign Ministry said Bae was well, "under the circumstances," and promised to keep checking regularly on his health.

In a previous version of this story, Stephen Noerper was identified as affiliated with the Asia Society. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid