An American citizen held by North Korea's government will be forced to leave a hospital in Pyongyang and return to a labor camp.
Kenneth Bae was born in South Korea and has U.S. citizenship. As an evangelist Christian pastor, he operated tours from China into North Korea until he was arrested in November 2012. (Via CNN)
North Korea's government found Bae guilty of trying to subvert the government through religious teachings. He's now serving a 15-year sentence in the hermit nation.
The news of his return to a labor camp is especially disappointing for those advocating for Bae's release because just a few weeks ago, it looked as if the North Korean government might release him. (Via Los Angeles Times)
Medical issues landed Bae in a Pyongyang hospital, and in a news conference, he admitted wrongdoing and asked Western media to stop spreading false stories about North Korea. (Via Fox News)
There's been a lot of speculation over whether Bae was coerced into saying this. Experts say North Korea has elicited these types of public confessions from previous prisoners shortly before releasing them.
For instance, 85-year-old American Merrill Newman, who was released by North Korea last year, says his confession was coerced. But with Bae now forced back to a labor camp, his chances of a similar release seem slim. (Via NBC)
The U.S. State Department voiced its concerns Friday. A spokeswoman said: “We also remain gravely concerned about Mr. Bae’s health, and we continue to urge DPRK authorities to grant Mr. Bae special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds." (Via Wikimedia Commons / Liberfrancis)
The State Department also said its offer to send a special envoy to speak with North Korean officials still stands. Bae is now the longest-held American prisoner of North Korea since the Korean War.