Lynnwood man begs for release from North Koreaon July 25, 2013 @ 5:40 am (Updated: 6:33 am - 7/25/13 )
Bae is the 44-year-old tour operator who was arrested in North Korea in November. He had made several trips to the country without incident, but this time he was detained and charged with hostile acts against the government. He went to trial in April, accused of attempting a coup.
The Christian missionary and father of two was sentenced to 15 years hard labor. He's currently working at a prison farm, working the fields.
His mother received a package from him two weeks ago. It was full of hand-written notes begging for help.
"I don't see any action," his mother said. "I want to ask them to send an envoy or do something special. As a mother, I'm really getting angry."
Earlier this month, a pro North Korean news agency released a video of Bae in prison where he apologized for his crimes and asked for help. His head was shaved. He was wearing a dirty prison uniform. He did not look to be in good health.
Bae's sister Terri Chung said watching that video was not easy. "The sound my mother made when she watched that video I will never forget," she said. "It was just the most heart-wrenching, almost like an animal in pain."
She said the family can't afford to wait any longer. "We cry a lot," Chung said. "This was my brother speaking from prison and we needed to let people know that his health was failing. We needed to seek help to get him out and get him home."
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have traveled to North Korea over the last few years to help get Americans held there released, but so far there has been no official effort on Bae's behalf.
Bae's only hope of being released might rest with former NBA star Dennis Rodman. He's returning to North Korea August 1 to hang out with Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Rodman said he plans to work hard with his new pal to get Bae out of jail and on a plane to the U.S.
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