Kenneth Bae appeals to U.S. government to secure his release

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 20 at 7:00 PM

A Lynnwood man made a public plea from North Korea Monday, asking the US government to help secure his release.

In a rare appearance before reporters, Kenneth Bae admitted his guilt and asked the US, the press, and his family to "...stop worsening my situation by making vile rumors against North Korea and releasing materials related to me, which are not based on the facts."

"I want to be pardoned by the North as soon as possible and return to my beloved family. For that, I ask the U.S. government, press and my family to make more active efforts and pay more attention," he said in Korean.

Bae was escorted by prison guards and his statement was likely sanctioned by the North Korean government.

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, lives in the Seattle area, but was out of town Monday. She released a written statement.

"I had mixed emotions as I watched my brother today," she said. "I was encouraged that he appeared to be in decent health, but it was still painful to see him in his prison uniform."

"He is a kind of loving husband, father, son, and brother -- and he need to be home immediately."

"In a situation like this, you're not sure what's the best thing to do," said Derek Sciba, a family friend. "To say a lot, to say a little."

Sciba says it's impossible to know what is going on behind the scenes.

"But we know Kenneth was advocating for his release, for any officials or authorities who can do something to act, and we agree with that," said Sciba.

The 45 year old missionary was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for so-called crimes against the state.

His imprisonment gained even more attention earlier this month when Dennis Rodman made controversial comments about Bae, implying his guilt. Rodman later apologized and this weekend, checked himself into rehab.

Today, an administration official told KING 5 that the US has offered to send Ambassador Robert King to Pyongyang to secure Mr. Bae's release, and that they are awaiting North Korea's response.

In an emailed statement, Bae's family said he looked visibly distressed during his appearance Monday. They are concerned about his health and ask for increased support from the U.S. Government to secure his release.

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