US Christian Kenneth Bae Begins 15-Year Sentence in ‘Special Prison’ in North Korea

The Christian Post is reporting that U S Christian Kenneth Bae began serving his 15 year prison sentence of hard labor at a „special prison” in North Korea for alleged hostile acts against the state, two videos related to the tour guide and Christian missionary have emerged that may shed light on Bae’s evangelism activities in the oppressive communist country.

  • U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae appears in this undated photo shared on a Facebook page titled Remember Ken Bae, Detained in North Korea.
    (Photo: Facebook)
    U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae appears in this undated photo shared on a Facebook page titled „Remember Ken Bae, Detained in North Korea.”

North Korea’s official news agency has revealed that Bae, a 44-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen with family living in Washington state, entered prison on Tuesday, May 14, with no other details given on the location, name or specific type of prison, according to The Associated Press. Bae, who was put on trial and sentenced in April, reportedly lived in China close to the Korean border and frequently led tours into the country. Bae was arrested Nov. 3, 2012, while with a group of tourists in the northeastern port city of Rason (Rajin). During his trips, Bae apparently also visited and fed orphans, a topic he may have mentioned during a sermon he gave at a Missouri church in 2009.

Bae, whose tour company was called Nations Tour and operated out of Dalian, China, undoubtedly knew the risk he was taking if he indeed was evangelizing in North Korea. Despite its state-sanctioned churches, North Korea is notorious for its brutal means of keeping the masses in line, with its deadly labor camps frequently cited as examples by humanitarian groups worldwide.

Although the country’s constitution calls for freedom of religion, such a thing does not actually exist in North Korea, according to observers. The state ideology developed by deceased dictator Kim Il-Sung, called juche, claims that „man is the master of everything and decides everything,” according to the government’s website. North Koreans are compelled to venerate the ruling family, who have been ascribed mythological histories.

Bae is the sixth American to be detained by North Korea in five years, and none of his predecessors remained imprisoned longer than seven months. They, too, were given long prison sentences but were eventually released after visits to Pyongyang by high-profile Western officials, such as in 2009 when former President Bill Clinton secured the release of U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

A similar attempt might have been made to facilitate Bae’s release when former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt visited North Korea in January. Richardson told Reuters news agency that officials had informed him that Bae was in good health but that they would not be allowed to see him. The former governor was reportedly allowed to pass along a letter from Bae’s son.

The U.S. State Department has called on North Korea to release Bae, whom Pyongyang officials claim confessed to the crimes during interrogation.

PLEASE PRAY for Kenneth Bae!


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