EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

February 11, 2014

Family of American detained in North Korea reacts

SEATTLE (AP) — The family of a Washington state man imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year expressed alarm and sadness Monday after an invitation was cancelled for a U.S. envoy to visit Pyongyang and discuss Kenneth Bae’s release.

Terri Chung, Bae’s sister, said in a statement, however, that relatives are encouraged by a growing number of people — including the Rev. Jesse Jackson — calling for her brother’s freedom.

“It has been 474 days since Kenneth has been detained in the DPRK,” the statement said, referencing the nation’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Kenneth is just an ordinary American father of three who is desperately trying to return to his family.”

The statement continued, imploring U.S. and North Korean leaders “to work together to let this U.S. citizen come home to his family.”

Bae, 45, of Lynnwood, a suburb about 15 miles north of Seattle, had been living in China for seven years. He was taken into custody in November 2012 while leading a tour group into a North Korean economic zone.

The cancellation, announced by the State Department on Sunday, comes only days after a detained Bae told a pro-Pyongyang newspaper that he expected to meet this month with U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues, Bob King.

The move signals an apparent protest of upcoming annual military drills between Washington, D.C., and Seoul, South Korea. North Korean officials also say the U.S. has mobilized nuclear-capable B-52 bombers during training near the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea calls the planned drills a rehearsal for invasion, a claim the allies deny.

The State Department said Jackson, the civil rights leader, has offered to travel to North Korea at the request of Bae’s family. The State Department did not elaborate and referred questions to Jackson, whose spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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