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Bob King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will travel to North Korea this week to request a pardon and amnesty for Christian missionary Kenneth Bae.
45-year-old Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in April for committing “hostile acts” towards North Korea, The Associated Press reports. King will travel to Pyongyang in the first official public trip made in two years to North Korea.
Bae has health problems and the White House said, “We remain deeply concerned about the health and welfare of Kenneth Bae, the American citizen currently detained in North Korea.”
Bae’s family claims he is in deteriorating health and has lost 50 pounds since being imprisoned, according to The Washington Post.
If Bae is released to King, then it’ll follow a similar pattern that occurs in negotiations with North Korea. An administration official flies to North Korea for a favor and the current regime acts like their presence signifies power for that regime.
The AP notes that North Korea tends to use detained Americans as part of its power struggle with the U.S. over nuclear and missile programs.