Mom visits American detained in Nkorea

Associated Press
Kenneth Bae, right, an American man detained in North Korea for the past 11 months, and his mother Myunghee Bae talk each other during their meeting at a hospital in Pyongyang Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. For the first time since he was sentenced eleven months ago to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea, the Korean-American Christian missionary and tour operator has had a visit today from his mother. She later told Japan's Kyodo News agency that Kenneth Bae's health has gotten better since he was transferred to a hospital from a prison where he was serving his sentence. But he told her that his condition is still not good. (AP Photo/The Choson Sinbo, Mun Kwang Son) NO SALES, NO ARCHIVING, ONE TIME USE ONLY, CREDIT MANDATORY
.

View gallery

SEATTLE (AP) — An ailing American who has been detained in North Korea for 11 months has had an emotional reunion with his mother for the first time since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, the family said Friday.

Myunghee Bae was allowed into North Korea to see her son, Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary, at a hospital where he has been held since August.

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, of the Seattle suburb of Edmonds, said Friday she had not yet spoken with her mother, but did hear from the Swedish ambassador in Pyongyang, who attended the visit. Photographs of the reunion depicted Bae, wearing vertical stripes of blue and white, embracing his mother and holding her hand.

"He said it was a very emotional meeting, that they had a reunion and that Kenneth did look better from when he was hospitalized on Aug. 9," Chung said.

Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old tour operator and Christian missionary, was arrested last November while leading a group of tourists in the northeastern region of Rason. The government accused him of subversive acts.

He was transferred over the summer from a prison camp, where he largely farmed vegetables, to the hospital because he had lost more than 50 pounds. He also suffers from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain, his family has said.

The ambassador reported that Bae has regained about 15 pounds since being hospitalized, Chung said.

"The rest he's been given must be helping," Chung said.

Though comforting, the visit did not necessarily give the family any greater hope that Bae might soon be freed: "We can only hope," Chung said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. helped coordinate the visit through the Swedish embassy, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea because the U.S. has no diplomatic ties there.

The State Department has been in close contact with Bae's family, she said.

"We remain gravely concerned about his health and continue to urge the (North Korean) authorities to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds," she said.

Bae is a U.S. citizen but had been living in China for the past seven years.

A report by a Japan-based media outlet affiliated with North Korea, the Choson Sinbo, said Bae and his mother met for 90 minutes. As soon as she entered the room, she hugged Bae and wept.

Bae talked to the ambassador first and then met his mother, the report said. She had been met at the airport Thursday by the Swedish ambassador.

In a video statement before she left, Myunghee Bae, of Lynnwood, Wash., said her heart "was broken into pieces" when a prison interview with her son surfaced in July, because he looked so different. Her trip was expected to last five days.

"I want to see him and comfort him and hold him in person," she said. "I miss him so much."

Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others eventually were allowed to leave without serving out their terms, some after prominent Americans, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, visited North Korea.

Analysts suggest North Korea has used detained Americans as bargaining chips in a standoff with the United States, which long has pressed Pyongyang to abandon a nuclear program estimated to have a handful of crude atomic weapons.

Recent attempts by the U.S. government to free Bae have come up short. In late August, North Korea rescinded its invitation for a senior U.S. envoy to travel to Pyongyang to seek his release.

Bae, a father of three, was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and sister in 1985. He later moved to China, and a couple of years ago began leading small tour groups, mostly of American and Canadian citizens. He led the groups into a "special economic zone" designed to encourage commerce in Rason.

Several years ago, Bae gave a sermon in which he advocated bringing Americans to North Korea for a mass prayer session to bring about the reunification of North and South Korea.

___

Associated Press writer Eric Talmadge in Tokyo and Deb Riechmann in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

View Comments (95)

Recommended for You

  • Luggage piece found on French island near possible MH370 debris

    Part of a bag was found Thursday on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion not far from plane debris which has fuelled speculation it may be from missing flight MH370. "The piece of luggage was here since yesterday but nobody really paid attention," said Johnny Begue, a member of a local…

    AFP
  • Turkey onslaught on Kurds, after IS attack, fuels anger

    DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AP) — Just when it seemed Turkey was getting serious about the fight against IS, it has turned its military focus to pounding its old foe: the Kurdish rebels.

    Associated Press51 mins ago
  • Chicago man cleared after 17 years in prison shot dead

    CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who served 17 years in prison for murder before being cleared of the crime has been shot and killed almost three years after being released from prison, police said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Family Pet-Sitter Helps Herself To Homeowner's Possessions

    DEAR ABBY: A trusted and beloved family member who takes care of my cats -- and therefore has a key to my house -- has been stealing things like cleaning supplies, knickknacks, family pictures, etc. Most of them have little monetary value. But imagine my surprise when I spotted some of my missing…

    Dear Abby
  • Eight family members decapitated in north Mexico

    Eight people from the same family, including two minors, were kidnapped by masked gunmen and their decapitated bodies were found days later in northern Mexico, authorities said Wednesday. The bodies were found after a ninth member of the Martinez family escaped Sunday's abduction near Casa Quemada,…

    AFP
  • Russia reassures Israel over Iran nuclear deal

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that the deal on Iran's nuclear program would improve security in the Middle East and guaranteed that Tehran would not acquire nuclear arms. Israel plans to lobby the U.S. Congress not to approve the…

    Reuters
  • An American Dentist Killed Zimbabwe’s Famous Lion

    Cecil the lion, a famous black-maned resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, died at the hands of an American dentist, conservationists claim. “Mr. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn't kill him,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said in…

    TakePart.com
  • View

    Creeping vines, abandoned village (20 photos)

    Just a handful of people still live in a village on Shengshan Island east of Shanghai that was once home to more than 2,000 fishermen. Every day hundreds of tourists visit Houtouwan, making their way on narrow footpaths past tumbledown houses overtaken by vegetation. The remote village, on one of…

    Yahoo News
  • Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put 'hole in head' of driver

    Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it's now on YouTube.

    CNET
  • Jon Stewart signing off 'Daily Show' fake newscast for real

    NEW YORK (AP) — After more than 16 years and nearly 2,600 telecasts, Jon Stewart can feel proud of his scads of Emmys and his pair of Peabody Awards, his cultural gravitas (he hung with the Prez, both on and off the air!), even his reprobate status at Fox News.

    Associated Press40 mins ago
  • View

    Photos of the day - July 29, 2015 (20 photos)

    The full moon rises over the illuminated Kazan Kremlin with the Qol Sharif mosque illuminated in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, Indian dancers paint their body like tigers as they perform a Tiger dance during the International day of the Tiger in Calcutta and a diver performs with fish as part of…

    Yahoo News
  • Hidden Security Cameras Are Shocking Surprise For Daughter

    DEAR ABBY: I'm a 19-year-old woman in college who still lives with my parents. I found out something several weeks ago that's bothering me, and I need advice badly. Years ago, after a robbery, my parents installed security cameras outside our house. I knew about them because they were visible. But…

    Dear Abby
  • Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead

    By Kay Johnson KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban's official spokesman disavowed peace talks with the Afghan government on Thursday, throwing fledgling efforts to negotiate an end to 14 years of war into disarray. The statement came a day after the Afghan government said that Mullah Omar, the elusive…

    Reuters
  • Police Officer Involved in Deadly Cincinnati Shooting of Samuel DuBose Indicted for Murder, Dismissed from Force

    "I'm treating him like a murderer," prosecutor Joseph Deters said during a news conference when describing the warrant out for a police officer who killed Samuel DuBose, 43, earlier this month. Footage released today from a police officer's body cam lasts about 10 minutes and shows the shooting.…

    ABC News
  • Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to New York court

    NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Brady's lawsuit against the NFL in which he wants his four-game suspension overturned will be heard in New York instead of Minnesota.

    Associated Press31 mins ago
  • Killer deal: Amazon will pay you $10 to buy a $30 Google Chromecast

    Google’s little Chromecast dongle is pretty awesome. The device plugs into the HDMI port on any HDTV or monitor and instantly gives users access to movies, TV shows, videos, music, photos and more that can be streamed from any Android device. Best of all, perhaps, the Chromecast is wonderfully…

    BGR News
  • Internet mauls dentist accused of illegal kill of popular lion

    Technically Incorrect: Walter Palmer, a dentist in Minnesota, has his Yelp entry attacked by those not fond of his allegedly illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

    CNET