American tourist in North Korea faces the death sentence
An American tourist is to be put on trial in North Korea, facing charges of plotting to overthrow the government. The crime carries a possible punishment of the death penalty.
Kenneth Bae, an American tour operator of Korean descent, was arrested in November last year in North Korea’s North Eastern region of Rason. Both North Korea and the US have kept quiet about the case, thus the exact nature of his alleged crime has not been disclosed.
Bae was arrested as he was taking photographs of homeless children, and friends of his revealed that he was on a Christian mission to feed orphans. He has been identified in the Korean media by his Korean name, Pae Jun Ho.
In recent years, a number of Americans have run into trouble in North Korea, many of whom are of Korean descent. In 2009, two American journalists who were charged with entering the country illegally were only freed when former president Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-il.
The case against Bae is worsening relations between Pyongyang and Washington as well as South Korea. Tensions have risen since North Korea announced nuclear tests, and made threats of missile attacks against the South and its Western allies.
It is likely that Bae will be handed a harsh sentence under Kim Jong Un’s government in order for him to be used as a bargaining chip between the rogue state and Washington. The US is currently in talks with the Swedish embassy in Korea who represent Americans there.
The other Americans recently detained were all either released or deported through high-profile diplomatic interventions.