Kenneth Bae in North Korea reportedly feels abandoned by U.S.; family sympathizes
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — Kenneth Bae, an American citizen detained in North Korea, said he feels like the U.S. government has abandoned him, according to a pro-North Korea newspaper.
Bae gave an interview to Choson Sinbo, a newspaper based in Japan, which has been given access to Bae in the past.
The newspaper published a picture of Bae wearing a blue prison garment in an interview that it said took place on July 30.
Bae said that he heard the U.S. government is doing everything it can to have him released and thanked the American and North Korean government for allowing him to speak to his family over the phone and medical treatment.
He’s been in North Korea for two years and there is no sign of this issue being solved, according to the paper.
Bae said he is suffering from several health problems and is worried that his condition will worsen when he returns to a special labor camp soon. Bae was re-admitted to a hospital in Pyongyang in March.
“He expressed anxiety that if he is to go back to the labor camp, such symptoms may become worse and said he is stressed that he is unable to pay fees for the hospital treatments,” the newspaper reported.
Bae, of Lynwood, Washington, was arrested in November 2012 in Rason, along North Korea’s northeastern coast. Pyongyang sentenced him last year to 15 years of hard labor, accusing him of planning to bring down the government through religious activities. He is widely reported to have been carrying out Christian missionary work in North Korea.
Bae is one of three Americans currently held in North Korea. Matthew Miller Todd was taken into custody on April 10 and Jeffrey Fowle, from Ohio, was detained in June for breaking a law, according to North Korea’s state news agency.
Kenneth Bae’s family responded after the interview, seeming to say they also grow frustrated with Bae’s continued imprisonment in North Korea.
The report was the first news the family had had since April 18, when the Swedish Embassy visited Bae. The famly believes his health is worsening.
“When we woke this morning to hear news about Kenneth, we joined him in feeling the disappointment, wondering when this will ever end,” the familly said. “In the interview, Kenneth talked about his health concerns and the fear of being sent back to labor camp due to lack of movement in his case. He has significant health concerns. We not only pray every day for his freedom, we pray for his life, as he is enduring very difficult conditions.”
Kenneth is the longest held American in North Korea since the Korean War and the only one to be sent to its labor camp.
“We implore President Obama and Secretary Kerry for urgent action to secure Kenneth’s freedom,” the family said. “With Kenneth’s health continuing to deteriorate, we cannot afford to wait any longer.”