Around Asia: Kenneth Bae moved from labor camp to hospital

In Other News - August 12th, 2013
North Korea Kenneth Bae

Months of ploughing and planting fields have taken their toll on Kenneth Bae’s health, as calls for the release of the American sentenced to 15 years of forced labor in North Korea intensify.

Bae, 45, also known as Pae Jun Ho, has been moved from a labor camp to a hospital after falling ill, his sister, Terri Chung said.

Bae spent his days working at the farm in prison eight hours a day, he once said in an interview with Choson Sinbo.

However, he is in deteriorating health with an enlarge heart and chronic diabetes as well as back and leg pain.

Chung said she learned of her brother’s condition from the Swedish ambassador to North Korea, who was Bae’s only foreign visitor.

Bae, who became a naturalized American citizen after moving to the US in 1985, was detained in November as he led a tour group through the northern region of the country.

He was accused of using his tour business to form groups aimed at overthrowing the North Korean regime.

Bae had urged his supporters to call on the US government to seek “special amnesty” for him.

“The only way I can be free to return home is by obtaining amnesty,” Chung read from the letter Bae wrote in June 13.

“In order for that to happen it will take more active efforts from the US government side.”

North Korea has in the past released American detainees after high-profile US officials visited the reclusive state to negotiate their freedom.

Washington said it would not fall for the North’s pattern and demanded Bae’s immediate release on “humanitarian grounds.”

by Maesie Bertumen

Image: Gabriel Prehn Britto/Flickr