Missionary jailed in North Korea asks U.S. to help free him

PYONGYANG, North Korea — A U.S. missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year appeared before reporters Monday and appealed to the U.S. government to do its best to secure his release.

The missionary, Kenneth Bae, 45, made the comments at what he called a news conference held at his own request. He was under guard during the appearance. It is not unusual for prisoners in North Korea to say after their release that they spoke in similar situations under duress.

Wearing a gray cap and an inmate's uniform with the number 103 on his chest, Bae spoke in Korean during the brief appearance, which was attended by the Associated Press and a few other foreign media in Pyongyang.

Bae, the longest-serving American detainee in North Korea in recent years, expressed hope that the U.S. government will do its best to win his release. He said he has not been treated badly in confinement.

"I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country," he said.

Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group and accused of crimes against the state before being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. A North Korean government spokesman at the time accused him of plotting to "destroy our system through religious activities against our republic."

Bae made an apology Monday and said he had committed antigovernment acts.

North Korea has detained at least seven Americans since 2009. The others were eventually deported or released without serving out their sentences, some after prominent Americans such as former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter traveled to Pyongyang.

U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, a missionary, has been detained in North Korea for more than a year. 

U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, a missionary, has been detained in North Korea for more than a year. 

Missionary jailed in North Korea asks U.S. to help free him 01/20/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:16am]

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