US envoy attempts to negotiate release of American missionary held in North Korea

 

New York

A special US government envoy will travel to North Korea on Friday to seek the release of Kenneth Bae, the American Christian missionary and former tour operator sentenced to 15 years hard labour by the secretive state.

Detained last November while leading a tour in the country, he was found guilty of “hostile acts” and sentenced in April, with a Supreme Court spokesman later claiming to the state news agency that he had “set up plot-breeding bases in different places of China for the purpose of toppling the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] government from 2006 to October 2012 out of distrust and enmity toward the DPRK”. The US has repeatedly called for Mr Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds, citing the 45-year-old’s health problems, including diabetes.

Now, the Obama administration’s special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, will travel to the country to renew the US request for Mr Bae’s release.

Speaking to reporters during a stopover in Tokyo, Mr King said that while it wasn’t certain that Mr Bae would be freed, he was “going to make to an appeal”. He added: “He has health problems and we’re hopeful we will be able to make progress on that.”

The trip will be the first public visit to the country headed by Kim Jong-un, the son of the late Kim Jong-il, by a US government official in over two years. In the recent past, North Korea has usually released Americans in its custody without forcing them to serve their full prison terms. Among those who have travelled to the country to secure the release of incarcerated Americans are the former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Mr King himself secured the release of Eddie Jun, a Korean-American from California detained on unspecified charges, during his last visit to the country in 2011 to survey the food situation.

Earlier this month, Mr Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said he had been shifted from a labour camp to a hospital on account of his ill health. “The last three months in the labour camp have certainly been very trying on both his mental and physical health,” she told CNN. “He’s also under a tremendous amount of stress.”

Back in July, Mr Bae sought the assistance of the US in securing his release in an interview with a Japanese newspaper. “Although my health is not good, I am being patient and coping well,” he said. “And I hope that with the help of the North Korean government and the United States, I will be released soon.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy