US Official Sent to North Korea Seeking Pardon For Imprisoned Korean American

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A U.S. envoy has been sent to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of imprisoned American, Kenneth Bae, AFP reports. Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, told reporters in Tokyo during a flight layover that although nothing is definite, he is “hopeful” he will be able to secure Bae’s release.

“We are going to make an appeal” for Bae’s release in the North Korean capital, Ambassador King said. “He has health problems and we are hopeful that we are going to be able to make progress on that.”

The U.S. State Department has said that King will be asking the DPRK to grant Bae “special amnesty on humanitarian grounds so that he can be reunited with his family and seek medical treatment.” King was invited by Pyongyang to engage in talks surrounding Bae’s release.

Kenneth Bae, who is a tour operator by trade and identifies as an evangelical Christian, was arrested in November of last year in Rason for breaking North Korean bans on religious proselytizing. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for his crimes, and has since lost 50 pounds as well as suffered kidney and liver problems while in prison.