News / Asia

US Prepared to Send Envoy to N. Korea for Bae Release

American missionary Kenneth Bae, right, leaves after speaking to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital in Pyongyang Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.
American missionary Kenneth Bae, right, leaves after speaking to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital in Pyongyang Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.
VOA News
The United States is now waiting for North Korea to respond after offering to send a special envoy to Pyongyang to help win the release of jailed American Kenneth Bae.

Speaking anonymously, a White House official said the U.S. offered to send Ambassador Robert King to help free Bae, who has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

The offer comes after Bae, appearing before reporters in Pyongyang, asked for Washington to help bring him home and confessed to a "serious crime" in the North.

Bae, a missionary and businessman convicted of state subversion, is widely considered to have been speaking under duress at the Monday press conference.

His longtime friend Bobby Lee told VOA that he viewed the press conference as "orchestrated," but said it is a "promising start" that the United States has offered to send an envoy.

"We'll have to wait and see how this develops. It's hard to know how this will unfold. But at least there's a dialogue. So at least that makes this somewhat promising," said Lee.

Most analysts say North Korea is trying to use Bae as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from Washington, but it is unclear exactly what the North wants.
 
Korea analyst Nick Bisley of Australia's Latrobe University told VOA that Pyongyang may be using Bae as a desperate bid for political legitimacy.
 
"North Korea wants some engagement from Washington, but it wants it on its own terms. And this is a way of getting the Americans to be seen, within the internal context, of singing the tune of Pyongyang," explained Bisley.
 
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.
 
So far, it is unclear if North Korea would even welcome a visit by Ambassador King.
 
When King tried to visit in August, North Korea called the trip off at the last minute, citing joint U.S.-South Korean military drills. A fresh round of drills is set to get underway next month.
 
Bae is the sixth American to be held in North Korea since 2009. All the others were released within a year, while Bae has now served 15 months.

A family statement Monday "humbly" asked North Korean officials for mercy to release Bae, who it said has "acknowledged his crimes," apologized and already served 15 months in jail.

In his press conference Monday, the 45-year-old Bae, dressed in a blue prison suit and hat, asked his family to "stop worsening my situation by making vile rumors against North Korea."

Speaking under heavy guard, Bae also told reporters he hopes the U.S. can step up its efforts to bring him home.

"Up until now, I know that Americans here returned [to the U.S.] after a certain period thanks to the generous measures taken by the government of this country and the efforts of the American government. I would like to request the American government once more, I know for the past 15 months you have made a lot of effort, but now I want to ask you to give me direct assistance not in words, but with action, and solve my problem," said Bae.

Bae 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.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
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 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 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.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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