North Korea has sentenced a Korean American to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified “hostile acts” against the state, the North’s KCNA news agency announced Thursday.
Kenneth Bae, 44, from Washington state, had been detained since November after entering the country’s northeast as either a tourist or tour operator.The sentence comes after months of increasingly dire threats from North Korea, including nuclear war, that appear designed to pressure the U.S. government into making concessions. This latest move turns Bae into a bargaining chip, said analysts in Seoul, South Korea.
Said to be a devout Christian who ran a travel company from the northeast China city of Dalian, Bae had previously visited North Korea several times without incident. He was tried at the Supreme Court on April 30, said KCNA. A guilty verdict was inevitable after another KCNA report Saturday claimed “he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it. His crimes were proved by evidence.”
In several cases since 2009, the United States has sent high-profile envoys to secure the release of U.S. citizens detained in North Korea. In 2009, former president Bill Clinton brought home two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were serving 12 years hard labor after crossing the border illegally.
Read more at USA Today