US Envoy to Travel to North Korea to Seek Release of Detained American Missionary

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

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.

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