Sister of Lynnwood’s Kenneth Bae issues statement on brother’s interview in North Korea

Kenneth Bae

Kenneth Bae in a July interview.

The sister of Kenneth Bae, the Lynnwood man imprisoned in North Korea for almost two years, issued a statement after a pro-North Korean newspaper published an interview with Bae in which he said he feels abandoned.

In the interview, Bae reportedly said that he fears being sent back to a labor camp because of his bad health. Bae will turn 42 on Friday, Aug. 1. Bae, who led tour groups in North Korea, was arrested in late 2012 and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for unspecified hostile acts.

For Terri Chung of Edmonds, the story was the first news of her brother since April.

This is Terri Chung’s statement:

After months of silence, it is devastating to hear Kenneth talk about “feeling abandoned by the United States government.” Although we acknowledge and appreciate all the efforts the US State Department has been making behind the scenes to secure Kenneth’s release, the fact remains that after almost 2 years, Kenneth still remains imprisoned in North Korea.

When we woke this morning to hear news about Kenneth, we joined him in feeling the disappointment, wondering when this will ever end. In the interview, Kenneth talked about his health concerns and the fear of being sent back to labor camp due to lack of movement in his case. He has significant health concerns. We not only pray every day for his freedom, we pray for his life, as he is enduring very difficult conditions.

This is the first news we have had of Kenneth since his consular visit with the Swedish Embassy representative on April 18th. At that time, we were alarmed to hear of Kenneth’s health worsening even despite hospital treatment since March 29th. In addition to chronic conditions such as diabetes and spinal injury, he reported new serious ailments with lung and liver. We are afraid that Kenneth has already suffered irreparable damage to his health. With the threat of Kenneth being sent back to labor camp despite ill health, our family is becoming increasingly desperate to get Kenneth home to seek the medical care he needs.

Kenneth is the longest held American in North Korea since the Korean War and the only one to be sent to its labor camp. Twice Kenneth has been hospitalized due to his health failing after months of strenuous hard labor, 8 hours a day, six days a week. We fear Kenneth’s body will not be able to survive being sent back to labor camp for the third time.

We implore President Obama and Secretary Kerry for urgent action to secure Kenneth’s freedom. With Kenneth’s health continuing to deteriorate, we cannot afford to wait any longer. Please do whatever it takes to bring Kenneth home. It is long past time. This is our desperate plea.

Kenneth will celebrate his 42nd birthday tomorrow, once again locked up and apart from friends and family. We ask people to pray for Kenneth at 7pm PST, Aug. 1, and join us to ask for mercy for his safe return. The Facebook event page can be found here.

Terri Chung
Sister of Kenneth Bae
July 31, 2014

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