Bae’s mother visits him in NorthAn American man imprisoned in North Korea for the past 11 months told his mother in their first meeting since his arrest and conviction that his health is improving but is still not good, according to a Japanese media report yesterday.
Myunghee Bae, who has been allowed into North Korea to see her son, Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American, told Japan’s Kyodo News agency that his health has been improving since he was transferred to a hospital from a prison where he was serving a sentence of 15 years’ hard labor.
Myunghee Bae met with her son yesterday at the hospital, Kyodo said. The report from Pyongyang did not give any further details, but said the two may be allowed to meet again before she leaves the country.
Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old tour operator, was arrested last November while leading a group of tourists in the northeastern region of Rason in North Korea. He is a U.S. citizen but had been living in China for the past seven years.
He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, but was transferred over the summer from a prison camp, where he farmed vegetables, to a hospital because he had lost more than 50 pounds (23 kilograms). He also suffers from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain, his family has said.
According to a Japan-based media outlet affiliated with North Korea, Bae’s mother was met at the airport Thursday by the Swedish ambassador, who serves as a liaison for U.S. matters in North Korea because the United States does not have an embassy there. That report, in the Choson Sinbo, said she was scheduled to stay in Pyongyang for five days.
“I came because I am worried that my son’s health has worsened,’’ the Choson Sinbo quoted her as saying at the airport. She said her visit had been approved by the U.S. government.
Kenneth Bae is at least the sixth American to have been detained in North Korea since 2009. The others eventually were allowed to leave without serving out their terms, some after prominent Americans, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, visited North Korea.