Quantcast
Latest Stories

N. Korea says it has detained a US citizen

By

PYONGYANG, North Korea  — North Korea said Friday that an American citizen has been detained after confessing to unspecified crimes, confirming news reports about his arrest at a time when Pyongyang is facing criticism from Washington for launching a long-range rocket last week.

The American was identified as Pae Jun Ho in a brief dispatch issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. News reports in the U.S. and South Korea said Pae is known in his home state of Washington as Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old tour operator of Korean descent.

An expert said he is likely to become a bargaining chip for the North, an attempt to draw the U.S. into talks. Five other Americans known to have been detained in North Korea since 2009 were all eventually released.

North Korean state media said Pae arrived in the far northeastern city of Rajin on Nov. 3 as part of a tour.

Rajin is part of a special economic zone not far from Yanji, China, that has sought to draw foreign investors and tourists over the past year. Yanji, home to many ethnic Korean Chinese, also serves as a base for Christian groups that shelter North Korean defectors.

“In the process of investigation, evidence proving that he committed a crime against (North Korea) was revealed. He admitted his crime,” the KCNA dispatch said.

The North said the crimes were “proven through evidence” but did not elaborate.

KCNA said consular officials from the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang visited Pae on Friday. Sweden represents the United States in diplomatic affairs in North Korea since Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations.

Karl-Olof Andersson, Sweden’s ambassador to North Korea, told The Associated Press he could not comment on the case and referred the matter to the U.S. State Department.

The State Department was not immediately able to provide any additional information about the report.

The operator of a Korean language website for the Korean community in the Northwest, Chong Tae Kim of JoySeattle.com, said the detainee’s father lives in Korea and his mother lives in Lynnwood, Washington.

“She hopes the State Department and Swedish Embassy help with his release,” he said Friday. “She’s trying not to speak to reporters, fearing that could affect her son’s release.”

The office of U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene says it has reached out to the mother and is pressing the State Department for information.

“We are very concerned about it and seeing what can be done on our end to help with this,” said spokesman Viet Shelton.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell on Friday would only say that they were aware of the detention and that Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang is providing consular services.

“We can, indeed, confirm that a U.S. citizen has been detained in North Korea,” Ventrell said, adding that he could not say more because of privacy restrictions.

In Seoul, the Segye Ilbo newspaper reported last week that Bae had been taking tourists on a five-day trip to the North when he was arrested. The newspaper cited unidentified sources.

News of the arrest comes as North Korea is celebrating the launch of a satellite into space on Dec. 12, in defiance of calls by the U.S. and others to cancel a liftoff widely seen as an illicit test of ballistic missile technology.

The announcement of the American’s detainment could be a signal from the North that it wants dialogue with the United States, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. He said trips by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter to North Korea to secure the release of other detained Americans created a mood for U.S.-North Korea talks.

“North Korea knows sanctions will follow its rocket launch. But in the long run, it needs an excuse to reopen talks after the political atmosphere moves past sanctions,” Cheong said.

Cheong said he expects that the American will be tried and convicted in coming months. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has the power to grant amnesty and will exercise it as a bargaining chip, Cheong said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this week that Washington had been trying to reach out to Kim.

“Instead, that was met not only with an abrogation of agreements that had been made by the previous North Korean regime, but by missile activity both in April and in December,” she told reporters.

She said Washington had no choice but to put pressure on Pyongyang, and was discussing with its allies how to “further isolate” the regime.

In April 2009, a North Korean rocket launch took place while two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were in North Korean custody after allegedly trying to sneak into the country across the Tumen River dividing the North from China.

They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor before being released on humanitarian grounds after Clinton flew to Pyongyang to negotiate their release.

Subsequently, three other Americans were arrested and eventually released by North Korea. All three are believed to have been accused of illegally spreading Christianity.

North Korea has several sanctioned churches in Pyongyang but frowns on the distribution of Bibles and other religious materials by foreigners. Interaction between North Koreans and foreigners is strictly regulated.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: arrests , North korea , US , Washington




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  2. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  5. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  6. Massive infra spending set
  7. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  8. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  9. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  7. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  8. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  9. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  5. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  6. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  7. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  8. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  9. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  10. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
Advertisement

News

  • Russia, West reach deal on Ukraine crisis but Obama cautious
  • Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  • Gunmen kill 20 at Sudan UN base–US envoy
  • S. Korea ferry rescue stalls as anger spreads
  • Sub dives deeper in hunt for missing MH370
  • Sports

  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • LeBron still No. 1 with NBA’s most popular jersey
  • Pacquiao back in PH, heads home to wife, kids
  • Lifestyle

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Entertainment

  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Business

  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • US stocks end mostly higher after earnings deluge
  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement