U.S., North Korea to meet on detained American
August 28th, 2013
11:20 AM ET

U.S., North Korea to meet on detained American

By Jill Dougherty

The United States is hopeful that a visit to Pyongyang aimed at securing the release of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae will be "straightforward," but a U.S. official speaking on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue tells CNN there are "no guarantees."

Ambassador Robert King, who's President Obama's special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will join a small delegation flying to Pyongyang on a U.S. military jet Friday. They are expected to spend 24 hours on the ground, meeting with North Korean officials.

"The sole purpose of the trip is to secure Bae's release," the official says. "Our expectation is that now is the time to move forward and resolve this, to release this American."

Bae has spent more time in North Korean custody than any other American. He has been held since November 2012 and, over the protests of the U.S., was convicted of committing hostile acts against North Korea.

The State Department says North Korea invited the special envoy as part of a "humanitarian mission" to try to free Bae.

In a statement Tuesday, it said that "Ambassador King will request the DPRK pardon Mr. Bae and grant him special amnesty on humanitarian grounds so that he can be reunited with his family and seek medical treatment."

The White House, in a separate statement, said it is urging the government of North Korea "to grant special clemency to Mr. Bae immediately and allow him to return home with Ambassador King."

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. USAPeasant

    Free Kenneth Baw! We must not forget about our American brother currently under the oppressive grip of the evil Kim Jong-Un!

    Shame on any American here that thinks we should let our brother languish in the despair of North Korea. We cannot forsake our brothers. Especially a courageous one like Mr. Bae who was working to help bring souls out from the yoke of oppression.

    August 29, 2013 at 12:59 am | Reply
  2. JimGA

    Come on, lets be real here. This guy is not a real American. He does not even speak English in the video. He should ask the South Korean government to seek help on his behalf. Furthermore this guy is well known in South Korea because he helped to smuggle North Koreans out of the country illegally. He did the crime, he deserve to do the time.

    August 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • Kangeh

      First of all, just because he does not speak English does not make him less American than one who speaks English. English is not an official language of the US so therefore your argument is invalid. And if you think helping North Koreans free themselves of the crime against humanity illegal and punishable, you need to re-learn your American values. It is depressing that there are people who consider helping the weak a crime.

      August 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • Lane

      So by your own logic, you can't be a 'real american' if you are bilingual or speak with a foreign accent, and you think helping people who live in one of the most oppressive states in the world deserves punishment...

      It's really sad to see that on the anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech that we are still so limited in our compassion and understanding of the fact that we should always fight oppression and at least give people who are less privileged than us our understanding and sympathy, which costs you nothing but makes you a better and more complete human being.

      August 28, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  3. Leaders from birth suck.

    Why would anyone go to countries that still have dictators?
    There was a time when I wanted to see the pyraminds up close, but now National Geographic is good enough for me.
    I think with the plethora of places to see in other countries I can live without seeing some places on this planet.
    I don't live in a bubble but better safe than sorry.

    August 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  4. Anyjoe

    What about our Ship USS PUEBLO

    August 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  5. Lane

    People go to hostile countries for work, including NK, all the time but it's just not publicized. NK does allow foreigners into the country, especially those who are technical advisors to industry or humanitarians trying to assist with the severe malnutrition crisis.

    If he wants to go, he's free to go. That's his right as an American and as a taxpayer, he's also guaranteed certain protections.

    People risk their lives everyday to help others who are in need. Everyone at one point in their life will need someone's help. Should we really be condemning people for wanting to help, considering everything that's going on in the world and at home today? I think that it really takes away from important dialogue about aid and how we are frustrated with the way it's being delivered.

    Some people are so inclusive of others that their community can even cross oceans, others are obviously more limited in their mental and emotional capacities. Somehow, these ignoramuses are unable to understand concepts like globalization and how international events actually do impact you in invisible yet impactive ways, which is why humanitarian peace-keeping operations and development programs are essential to the health of the global community.

    I really hope we get him back we clearly need more people here who know something about the world.

    August 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  6. NICU

    https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/svw2/sebastian-raphael-s-long-journey

    August 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  7. Anonymous

    US Officials: "If we wanted a US citizen to be detained indefinitely without cause by a government that meticulously spies on all aspects of his life and monitors his every communication, we'd take him back to the US and have the NSA do it!"

    August 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  8. Mark

    If he was over there doing missionary work, which he should have know better, then his arrest and punishment is his problem, not the U.S. taxpayers (like who do you think is paying for these costs). He is in another county, he should have respected their laws, the same as any American travelling abroad. We don't travel to different states in the U.S. and break laws. Why do people even go to North Korea, you know it's not friendly towards the West?

    August 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Reply
  9. JHS

    He probably was on a missionary trip or something. Maybe he was trying to send out the message that all humans are equal and have rights. Or maybe he was trying to spread the truth of North Korea and how it actually sucks compared to other countries. Kim Jung Il probably wasn't amused.

    August 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      Then that's HIS responsibility and the North Koreans were justified in enforceing their laws.

      August 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
      • JHS

        Isn't that a bit harsh? After all, he might have had a legit reason to go there. I read in another article that the first place he was sent to jail was because he was trying to overthrow North Korea's government. To be honest, I don't blame him for that, tons of North Koreans are suffering because of the government there.
        True, he did go about doing it in a wrong way, getting caught and everything. But he's an American citizen as well, meaning he has rights to ask for help. Also, this may seem naive, but I think he did it for good reasons and acted upon them, which is more than some people can say.

        August 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  10. TheMovieFan

    The North Koreans can keep him.

    August 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Lo

      I agree, if you're stupid and careless enough to go there don't expect your country to bail your butt.

      August 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  11. MikeOnABike

    I wonder how much cash Kim Jong Un is going to demand to "secure" his release.

    August 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
    • Gordon Duprey

      Probably not more than 10 million

      August 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Reply
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    August 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply
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    August 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  13. Jon

    About time! Hope he gets back soon

    August 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  14. leah

    You just never know what's going on behind the scenes. Remember, it was only a couple of months ago when NK was about to start a nuclear war...then after some tough behind the scenes talks...they just went silent, which was good. I see this as being what we only see on the surface as well.

    August 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  15. Sorkh Razil

    Any American stupid enough to go to a hostile country deserves to rot!

    August 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • You're Almost There

      There's a few of them on their way there now, trying to save this man. I don't think any of them deserve to rot.

      August 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  16. Fred

    The U.S. should not waste time or money on this fool.

    He knew the consequences of what he was doing in NK and did it anyway.

    This just encourages other nuts to do what he did.

    August 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      I hope your wife cheats on you fred.

      August 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Already nailed your wife Jon, she was OK.

        August 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • jak

      he might gone b/c of missionary or US government sent him there in the 1st place; have you thought of that? would you like to be in situation like that and no hope of getting help? think before you speak!

      August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
      • Mark

        I wouldn't be in that situation. 1. Because why would I travel to a country that everyone knows is hostile towards the West? 2. If I am in another country, I know to respect their laws and certainly not engage in any missionary work. This man was no stanger to North Korea, so he definately should have know better then to take pictures where he shouldn't and engage in missionary work. If he wanted to be a martyr, fine, but not on U.S. taxpayers' dollars. It might be different if he had been kidnapped from South Korea and then held in North Korea, but he wasn't.

        August 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Mark

      So true. How many times has the U.S, i.e. tax payers had to bail out tourists who were where they had no business being in the first place. You have those hikers who were told not to hike along the Iranian border, but did it anyway. You had those two females who knew better than to step over the North Korean border, but did it anyway. The list goes on and on.

      August 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply

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