Saturday, April 27, 2013

North Korea says Korean-American tourist Kenneth Bae will go on trial

The plight of Kenneth Bae (referred to by North Korean media as Pae Junho) has gotten little play in the American media, but more attention might be paid to his situation now that he is going on trial, at a time of heightened tensions.

From Reuters:
North Korea said on Saturday a Korean-American tourist, who has been held in prison by the reclusive state since late last year, will face trial for "committing crimes" against the North, a move that could further stoke tensions with the United States.

Kenneth Bae, 44, was in a group of five tourists who visited the northeastern city of Rajin on a five-day trip last November and has been held by police since then.

KCNA, the North's official news agency, said Bae entered the North on November 3.

"In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it," the KCNA report said, using the North's official title of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"His crimes were proved by evidence," it said, adding he would soon be taken to the Supreme Court "to face judgment".

Former U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson delivered a letter regarding Bae to officials during a trip to North Korea in January, although he was unable to meet Bae.
Given North Korea's track record, it's reasonable to expect Pyongyang to milk concessions or a high-profile visit out of this, with such a visit perhaps being used to either squeeze concessions or provide a face-saving way out of the manufactured crisis that the DPRK has created.

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