Get PJ Media on your Apple

Who Is Kenneth Bae, the Longest-Held U.S. Prisoner in North Korea?

And what efforts are even being made on behalf of the Washington state resident -- "charged – in essence – for being a Christian"?

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

January 7, 2014 - 7:03 pm
Page 1 of 2  Next ->   View as Single Page

WASHINGTON — For those who held onto slim hope that former NBA player Dennis Rodman might help secure the release of an American held in a North Korea prison camp, Rodman’s outburst of regime propaganda today demonstrated he knows or cares little about Kenneth Bae.

“Are you going to take an opportunity, if you get it, to speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae and say, ‘Let us know why this man is being held?’ If you can help them, will you take the opportunity?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked.

“The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did,” Rodman shot back. “Do you understand what he did? In this country?”

As it was quickly revealed, Rodman had no idea what Bae is purported to have done — other than offend his dear compatriot Kim Jong-un.

Bae, 44, was born in South Korea and graduated from high school in Torrance, Calif. “To those who know Kenneth Bae, he is the larger-than-life kind of guy who loved to rock the Miami Vice look, the white blazer with the sleeves pushed up and gelled hairstyle, back in the ‘80s. He is the guy who is always surrounded by friends, hosting homemade meals and regaling everyone with hilarious tales and his renditions of Elvis Presley tunes,” his family states on a website appealing for his release.

“Kenneth is the guy who always does the right thing, no matter the cost. He is the guy who dropped out of college at the age of 22 to support his own young family. He is the guy who would come home late from working two jobs and just spend hours watching his baby son sleep. He is the guy who follows his personal convictions, even to the ends of the world.”

A devout Christian, Bae thought he could help suffering North Koreans in part by leading a tour company in the special economic zones that would help reveal the people’s plight. On Nov. 3, 2012, he was stopped in Rajin-Sonbong while leading a tour group, a routine visit his family says he’d done more than 15 times before.

His crime? Bae had a computer disk with photos of starving North Korean orphans and other “propaganda” like a National Geographic documentary on the DPRK. For this he was accused of trying to stage a religious coup against the communist government, conducting a smear campaign against the regime, and encouraging North Koreans to topple the Kim dynasty.

In short: “Hostile acts against the republic.”

“When last in America and South Korea, Kenneth Bae went to several churches and preached about the need for North Korea’s immediate collapse,” a government spokesman said, claiming Bae was creating an “anti-government coalition” with other missionaries.

After a secret “trial” in April, Bae was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor.

Since then, the American’s health has deteriorated. He’s losing his vision because he can’t get proper care for his diabetes, has gallstones, and the labor camp is also taking a toll on his heart.

“We need people to take action and rally support for this fellow American in need. We need our government to swiftly secure amnesty for Kenneth. We need to bring Kenneth home,” his family says.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Bae’s home-state representative, said Rodman’s comments were insensitive.

“Dennis Rodman should stick to basketball and not cast aspersions on a fellow American who is being held by a foreign nation,” Larsen said. “Kenneth Bae and his family have gone through more than enough without having to listen to these hurtful statements from somebody who clearly does not know what he is talking about.”

“I join the White House in renewing our call for North Korea to grant a pardon and special amnesty for Kenneth and to immediately release him so he can come home to his family,” he added. “I pledge my continuing support to Kenneth’s family and will continue working with them and the State Department to ensure his safe return home.”

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I am very tired of the US having to "Bail out" people who have traveled to a country known to be unfriendly. I believe there is a man in Iran who has done the same thing. It's very questionable whether any action he took would help any dissident. The man in Iran has several young children who miss their father. He should have thought of that.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey PJ Media how long will you run this story?????
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
First of all why was this man in North Korea in the first place? I feel for this guy but if you are dumb enough to go to a murderous country like North Korea or Iran of your own volition then why should we have to jump through hoops to secure your release after they arrest you?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
He was there to encourage North Koreans to overthrow the terrorist government which has murdered, tortured and starved it's citizens for decades. He IS a hero, but he did run the risk of being arrested and incarcerated. He is worthy of our prayers.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Be that as it may...this man is as good as dead and I feel bad for him. That does not change the fact that he put himself in harms way and then expects our government to come to his rescue and bail him out.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's try and straighten this out. Kenneth Bae had been in and out of the DPRK several times. He was known as a Christian minister. That was not a problem with the authorities since he was bringing in funds and supplies and helping the people. He confined himself to ministering to souls in need. But then he mixed in anti-regime politics. He should have known this would get him in trouble. It did. Even so, several weeks after he was apprehended, the DPRK invited the Americans to send an emissary. Essentially they were saying, "take him off our hands." But then the US military decided to fly B-52 bombers over the peninsula, which they know drives the DPRK government nuts, so the invitation was canceled. Rodman couldn't ask for Bae's release since he has no official standing with the US government. In fact, the US government said on several occasions that they'd rather Rodman didn't go to the DPRK.
People must understand that the government of the DPRK is not necessarily anti-Christian, just as long as Christians obey the laws of the state like everyone else. The charge against Bae wasn't that he was a Christian minister of the Gospel but that he abused his position as a clergyman to disguise his real purpose - insurrection.
I was a bit surprised to read yesterday on the KCNA website that three government organizations of the DPRK sent their condolences to the relatives of Rev Mun Ik Kwan in south Korea, on the 20th anniversary of his death. Twenty years! Who was Rev Mun? He was a theologian who translated the Bible into Korean. Rev Mun is revered in the DPRK not because of that but because he worked for reunification. He was arrested and imprisoned by the south Korean authorities several times. Rev Mun was a strong conservative Christian right up to his last breath. Go to Google Images to see several pictures of Rev Mun with President Kim Il Sung who, by the way, was born into a Presbyterian home.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The White House? Help? Don't make me laugh.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rodman is complicit in evil.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hands down he is a thug with a mental illness.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rodman is a narcissist and coward.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like all of the others who have been captured in enemy territory, it is all about brains. Sleep with lions, tigers and bears -- you might be able to help them find food.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps he thought he might be able to help people in the most appalling country in the world, even if only by telling the rest of the world what is going on there (he was obviously wasting his time with you). Since he is a very committed Christian, he evidently attempted to apply his beliefs in a place which needed them.

I'm not religious, but I respect men like Kenneth Bae who are and who have the courage and humanity to act on their beliefs (and, yes, I can respect Christian morals, without being a practising Christian).

Whatever you think (and don't bother replying, because I really don't care) this man should not be in prison.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, he's in prison because he broke North Korean law. Regardless of how stupid the law may be, he knew about the law and got caught. My sympathy meter is not pegged out for this guy.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are you aware that you can "break the law" in North Korea by having the wrong great-grandparents? I am not being sarcastic. That is absolutely true. Countries like North Korea don't have "law" as we know it.

When the victims of the soviet purges, including quite a few Americans, were sent to the gulag, they were shipped in holds with convicted murderers. Quite intentionally, many "politicals" didn't even make it to the camps. Stalin's regime didn't just employ sadists and murderers, but it used the criminality of others as a resource of repression and terror.

North Korea is an outgrowth of stalinism, probably more extreme than even Stalin's ussr was. If I had the guts (and, being a coward, I don't), I'd be doing what Kenneth Bae is doing.

It will take a lot of Kenneth Baes to liberate North Korea. A good start would be for the rest of us to get acquainted with the facts about the place.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I understood all I needed to know when I saw the startling nighttime satellite from outer space photo of the 2 Korea's. In South Korea there was lots of electric light, (just like in the rest of the civilized world). In North Korea, there's appears to be 2 cities illuminated & only the capital is brightly illuminated. The rest of the country appears in complete darkness, positively medieval looking. Without electricity, there is NO civilization!!
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was stationed in Korea. I know the place. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that breaking the law in NK is going to get you in trouble. Given that, you have to be a special kind of moron to court trouble. He broke the law and is now in jail. Not seeing how the US gov needs to "do" anything about it.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
You weren't stationed in North Korea, though (and I'm not suggesting that you claimed that you were). You've no more been in North Korea than I have, so stop trying the argument-from-authority piffle.

The US government (and other governments) should speak up for people who have done nothing which rational people would think "illegal".

Being an ex-soldier clearly doesn't bring the gift of reason.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dennis Rodman is a total jackass. I'm surprised he can count to 10. Any one w/ any cajones in state would simply revoke his passport & all of the dupes he is taking w/ him to the Norks. Naturally, o won't do a thing as he doesn't exactly respect Christians. It is a very sad situation.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All

One Trackback to “Who Is Kenneth Bae, the Longest-Held U.S. Prisoner in North Korea?”