Reacting to imprisoned Christian missionary Kenneth Bae's recent press conference in North Korea where he seemingly admitted guilt to a serious crime, Bae's sister expressed pain and asked for mercy for his release. She also urged President Barack Obama to do all he can to secure his return back home in America.
"To the leaders of DPRK, we understand that Kenneth has been convicted of crimes under DPRK laws. Our family sincerely apologizes on Kenneth's behalf. Kenneth has also acknowledged his crimes and has apologized," Terri Chung wrote in a message posted on Tuesday on FreeKenNow.com.
"He has now served 15 months of his sentence, but faces chronic health problems. We humbly ask for your mercy to release my brother," she added.
During Monday's press event in Pyongyang, according to China's state-run news agency Xinhua, Bae came out in a prison uniform and asked the U.S. government, the press, and his own family to stop "worsening my situation" by making "vile rumors against North Korea," and called for cooperation between the two countries to secure his release.
"I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country," Bae stated.
Bae was arrested in the city of Rajin in November 2012 while working as a tour operator from China to North Korea, and was accused of making plots against the government. The devoted Christian was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, and last November became the longest-serving U.S. detainee there since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Experts have raised suspicion over Bae's supposed confession, however, with Kim Jin Moo of the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul insisting that the American citizen's statements cannot be taken as his own.
"The reason why North Korea had Kenneth Bae make this statement … is that they want Washington to reach out to them," Kim offered.
"Bae's comments are an appeal to Washington to actively persuade Pyongyang to release him."
Bae's family did not comment on the legitimacy of the confession, however, and chose to focus on his troubling health and called for increased efforts to get him released.
"I was encouraged that he appeared to be in decent health, but it was still painful to see him in his prison uniform, number 103. My brother is not a number to me, or to the rest of his family. He is a kind and loving husband, father, son and brother – and needs to be home immediately," Chung wrote, adding that the family remains "gravely concerned" about his chronic health problems.
"This is … the third time Kenneth has made a public plea to U.S. leaders for help," she noted. "We appreciate all work that our U.S. leaders have done behind the scenes, but now we ask or increased support from our government to secure Kenneth's release. We have faith in our government to protect the well-being of Americans both at home and abroad. We implore Secretary Kerry and President Obama to take immediate action to bring Kenneth home," she added.