BEIJING – Kenneth Bae, the U.S. missionary who has been detained in North Korea since 2012, has said he feels “abandoned” by his government but still hopes it will send a special envoy at an early date to secure his release, a pro-Pyongyang paper said Thursday.
“I have heard that the U.S. government is doing everything it can for my release but it is a pity that there has been no sign of resolution, though my stay in (North) Korea is coming close to two years, and I feel abandoned,” The Choson Sinbo newspaper, published in Japan, quoted Bae as saying in an interview conducted Wednesday.
The Korean-American was detained in November 2012 while leading a group on a tour of North Korea’s northeastern region of Rason and later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what Pyongyang says was an attempt to topple its regime.
Bae said in the interview that he is in bad shape and has been hospitalized again since March 29, but expects to be sent soon to a special prison.
The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and the release of Bae, a father of three in his 40s, is seen as holding the key to the resumption of political dialogue between the two countries.
The article — appearing on the newspaper’s website with a photo of bespectacled Bae in prison uniform, seated on a chair with hands clasped on his lap while being interviewed — seems to have aimed at swaying the U.S. government as foreign ministers from the two countries are expected to attend a regional security forum in early August in Myanmar.