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ICC Note: Kenneth Bae, reportedly a devout Christian, active missionary, and American citizen, was detained in North Korea in November of last year and charged with “hostile acts” against the North Korean regime. Kenneth, who led official tours into the country, may have been involved in missionary work, which is strictly prohibited in North Korea. In April he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor and has subsequently seen his health decline rapidly. It was recently reported that Kenneth has lost 50 pounds since his incarceration and had been hospitalized. Calls for his release by the U.S. State Department on humanitarian grounds have been ignored. Now the State Department is sending a Special Envoy to try and secure Kenneth’s release.
8/28/2013 North Korea (Fox News) – A U.S. envoy will travel to North Korea later this week to try and secure the release of an American missionary sentenced to 15 years hard labor in the country earlier this year.
The State Department says in a statement Bob King, who is special envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, will travel to North Korea on a humanitarian mission Aug. 30 to request freedom and a pardon for 45-year-old Kenneth Bae.
“Ambassador King will request the DPRK pardon Mr. Bae and grant him special amnesty on humanitarian grounds so that he can be reunited with his family and seek medical treatment,” the statement said.
Bae, a tour operator and Christian missionary, was arrested in November and accused of subversion. In April, North Korea’s Supreme Court convicted him of committing hostile acts against the country and sentenced him to 15 years hard labor.
Bae was recently hospitalized and reportedly has lost 50 pounds since he was sentenced.
While King’s visit is a humanitarian mission, it could help improve relations severely strained by Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“We remain deeply concerned about the health and welfare of Kenneth Bae, the American citizen currently detained in North Korea,” the White House said in a statement. “We urge the government of North Korea to grant special clemency to Mr. Bae immediately and allow him to return home with Ambassador King.”
When King last visited North Korea in May 2011 to assess the impoverished North’s food situation, he came home with Eddie Jun, the last American to be held then freed by Pyongyang. Jun, a Korean-American from California, was arrested for alleged unauthorized missionary work during several business trips to the country. He was released on humanitarian grounds.
Bae’s sister revealed earlier this month that he was moved from a labor camp to a hospital after losing more than 50 pounds. Terri Chung, of Edmonds, near Seattle, says her brother, a father-of-three, suffers from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain. He was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and sister in 1985. For the past seven years Bae has been living in China, Chung says.
According to U.S. officials, Washington first made its offer to send King to North Korea several weeks ago, but Pyongyang only recently took them up on the offer. Pyongyang has yet to declare it will release Bae.
King is already in the region, having traveled to China and then South Korea in the past week for talks with officials and activists about human rights and humanitarian issues in North Korea. He is scheduled to be in Japan on Wednesday.

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