[CHOSUNILBO] Kenneth Bae Recalls Release from N.Korean Labor Camp
Kenneth Bae

Kenneth Bae, a one-time prisoner in North Korea, on Thursday recalled his own release in 2014 amid reports that the North is freeing three American citizens of Korean descent.

"If a senior American official visits, the regime relocates American hostages to a hotel or hospital for treatment in advance," Bae told the Chosun Ilbo on Thursday. "They're trying to make it look as if the prisoners are well treated even though they are under detention on some criminal charge."

Bae, an evangelical pastor who was arrested in North Korea for proselytizing, said he too "was relocated to hospital for treatment and rehabilitation six weeks ahead of my release."

"Though his efforts failed in the end, I was able to take a good rest for three weeks at hospital ahead of a visit by Robert King,” the then U.S. State Department's special envoy for North Korea human rights, in August 2013, he added.

Bae was arrested because he had a storage device with a documentary film on the North when he visited in November 2012. He was finally freed when then National Intelligence Director James Clapper visited Pyongyang in November 2014.

"When I was in prison there, I was forced to do hard labor from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, working in a field of beans or carrying coals," he recalled. "I lost 24 kg in just three months because I was given a paltry amount of food but had to work hard."

He said the regime deliberately holds Americans hostage "to use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the U.S." "North Korean investigators made me write letters to my family in the U.S. to persuade them to ask the U.S. government to 'save' me and they also released footage of me asking for help."

"The regime didn't conceal its ulterior motives," he added. "During the trial, North Korean prosecutors openly said, 'Everything depends on what attitude the U.S. takes,'" he said.

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Original article : http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2018/05/04/2018050401071.html