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American Bae Marks 2 Years in North Korean Detention

Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press in Pyongyang, Sept. 1, 2014.

The family of an American detained in North Korea, Kenneth Bae, has made a renewed appeal to the North Korean regime to release the American detainee on the second anniversary of his detention.

“It is an anniversary our family did not want to have to celebrate. While Kenneth remains a prisoner in North Korea, our lives are also held captive; filled with unspeakable heartache and anxiety” said the family in a statement released this week.

The 46-year-old man from Lynnwood, Washington was arrested on November 3, 2012 while leading a group of tourists in the North’s northern city of Rason.

Later, Pyongyang sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts” against the regime, making him the longest-held American in North Korea in recent years.

The family also released a video clip on the video-sharing website YouTube wishing for Bae’s swift return home.

Bae’s family members appeared in the video clip. His mother Myunghee Bae said, “This month, I tried to write a letter to my son Kenneth. [But] I could not continue after I wrote, 'My dear son.”

“Through my letters in the past, I encouraged him to be patient and that help is coming soon, but how could I keep telling him after two years, the same words?” asked his mother.

The Bae family asked viewers to share the video and advocate it over social media with the hashtag #BringBaeBack.

Late last month, Pyongyang unexpectedly released American citizen Jeffrey Fowle after holding him for nearly six months.

Fowle was held captive in the communist country in May for leaving a Bible at a nightclub.

Along with Kenneth Bae, American Matthew Todd Miller is also being held in North Korea. The U.S. government has been calling for Pyongyang to free the men and send them home.

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