The Obama administration said Tuesday it is sending a special envoy to North Korea to seek the release of American Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the country.
The visit by Ambassador Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will be the first public trip to North Korea by an administration official in more than two years. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Mr. King will request a pardon and amnesty for Mr. Bae, 45, on humanitarian grounds.
Washington has been calling for Pyongyang to grant amnesty since Mr. Bae was sentenced on April 30.
Mr. Bae, a tour operator, was accused of committing “hostile acts” against North Korea. He suffers multiple health problems and was recently hospitalized.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration remains “deeply concerned about the health and welfare” of Mr. Bae. “We urge the government of North Korea to grant special clemency to Mr. Bae immediately and allow him to return home with Ambassador King,” Mr. Carney said.