Kenneth Bae was detained in North Korea in November and sentenced in April for “hostile acts to bring down its government”.
His sister Terri Chung says he has lost over 50 pounds and is suffering from severe back and leg pain, and is under a tremendous amount of stress. Even before his detention he had other health problems, including diabetes.
“I think the last three months in the labor camp have certainly been very trying on both his mental and physical health,” Chung said by phone from the Seattle area.
Bae was visited in the hospital by the Swedish ambassador to North Korea, who relayed the information to the U.S. State Department. Sweden represents the United States in North Korea because the U.S. has no diplomatic presence in the country.
The eight hours of farm labor per day appear to have worsened his condition.
Bae is also suffering from kidney stones, dizziness, loss of vision and blurred vision. Chung says the family is “extremely concerned” about his situation and is pleading for the U.S. government to help.
The U.S. government has repeatedly urged North Korea to release Bae. In a news conference Monday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “We continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant Mr. Bae amnesty an immediate release. It’s clear that Mr. Bae’s health is deteriorated. We’ve been concerned about his health for a long time, and is of deep concern to us today.”
But there has so far been no hint from Kim Jong Un’s North Korean government that they will heed the U.S. request on the case of Bae, who they call Pae Jun Ho.
North Korean state media has already outlined the reasons Bae was sentenced. His list of alleged crimes included setting up bases in China for the purpose of “toppling” the North Korean government, encouraging North Korean citizens to overthrow the government, and conducting a “malignant smear campaign”.
State media also accused Bae of planning to bring down the government through religious activities. They say Bae could have received the death penalty, but avoided it through “candid confession of his crimes.” Image/Google Images