ICC Note: North Korea not only continues to completely outlaw Christianity among its citizens, but holds as many as 70,000 Christians in one of six massive prison camps around the country. In addition the North Korean regime has recently arrested and sentenced Kenneth Bae, an American-Korean citizen and Christian for allegedly conducting "hostile acts" against the state. Kenneth was almost undoubtedly involved in providing aid to orphans and others in North Korea when he was arrested and many believe his imprisonment will be used as a sort of bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States.
6/10/2013 North Korea (CIC) - North Korea has found US citizen Kenneth Bae guilty for "hostile acts" against the state, sentencing him to 15 years of hard labor.
The verdict was handed down on April 30.
According to a story by Robert Park for the World Affairs Journal, a May 15 press release from North Korea's Korean Central News Agency stated that he has now begun serving his sentence within a "special prison."
Park said Bae, a devout Christian, is the owner of a North Korea tour company and was in the country with official permission when detained by North Korean authorities on November 3.
Park said what actually took place that led to his arrest has been a matter of a lot of speculation.
However, Park wrote, one thing is certain. "Bae, a humanitarian who had compassion for North Korea's starving and abandoned orphans, is not indictable for any crime. Rather, he is a hostage being held to accommodate yet undetermined North Korean agenda."
Park said the Bae case is reminiscent of the still unresolved case of a Christian minister and humanitarian, Rev. Kim Dong-shik, who died in a North Korean prison. In 2000, North Korean agents crossed the border and hunted Kim down in China, where he was operating several underground shelters for North Korean refugees. He was abducted and returned to North Korea, where he was reportedly tortured and starved to death.
Park commented, "Given China's inhumane policy to forcibly repatriate North Koreans who manage to escape their country-gulag (a policy that has led to thousands of deaths and divided Korean families), one can safely assume China tolerated, if not sanctioned, the abduction. Kim was a US permanent resident whose wife and two children, all US citizens, are from Illinois."
Park said that thorough examination of Kim's case exposes an unethical and dangerous double standard in United States foreign policy toward North Korea, specifically in reference to human rights violations, terrorism, and mass atrocity.
In 2005, Park said, then Sen. Barack Obama and 19 other Illinois lawmakers co-signed a letter to North Korea's UN mission, in which they promised not to support the de-listing of the DPRK government as a state sponsor of terrorism until a full accounting was given concerning Kim's fate.
Park said that North Korea has never accounted for Kim. Park said that in 2008, when the Bush administration agreed to the removal of the DPRK from the state terrorism list, in an eventually failed attempt to broker a deal with Pyongyang on its nuclear activities, the Democratic nominee reversed positions.
Park said that Kim's case has been basically ignored by Washington ever since, although his death has been confirmed by South Korean intelligence.
Park said a 2011 report from the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea found that the country has abducted more than 180,000 people from 12 countries. The committee called on the United States to re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism because of the abductions, which are categorized under 18 USC Section 2331 as acts of terrorism.