Editorial: Bring Kenneth Bae home
Washington native Kenneth Bae has been imprisoned in North Korea longer than any other recent American. A U.S. envoy’s trip there on Friday should lead to his safe release for medical treatment.
Seattle Times Editorial
A SENIOR U.S. envoy’s mission to bring American Kenneth Bae home from North Korea is a breakthrough moment in a long, frustrating saga.
Though no formal relations exist between the U.S. and North Korea, this one-day trip is an opportunity to save a man’s life and ease tensions between the two countries following Pyongyang’s defiant efforts to build its nuclear program.
Bae, a 45-year-old who has lived in Washington state and father of three, has been held in North Korea since November and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for “hostile acts” against the government. In detention, Bae has lost more than 50 pounds. He is reportedly hospitalized and suffering from several illnesses.
His family in Lynnwood is desperate to get him out. They say Bae, a devout Christian, was working as a tour operator when he was arrested.
Robert King, a U.S. special envoy for human-rights issues, says he will request the North Korean government pardon Bae and grant him amnesty on humanitarian grounds, but there’s no guarantee he will be freed.
Focus on two promising signs: This trip comes at the invitation of Kim Jong Un’s government and King is the right man for the job.
The Associated Press reports that in 2011 King traveled to North Korea to assess a food-shortage crisis and returned with Eddie Jun, the last American held there for doing missionary work.
Bae is Pyongyang’s sixth American detainee since 2009. Visits by high-profile U.S. officials have a record of leading to safe, successful releases.
Let’s hope Friday’s trip is no exception.