- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kenneth Bae, the American sentenced to hard labor in North Korea for supposed hostile acts against the state, headed off to prison on Wednesday, the start of his 15-year term.

State-run media stipulated he was being sent to a “special prison,” but the media didn’t provide other details or define further what that meant, The Associated Press reported.

Two South Korean analysts on North Korean policy and law couldn’t explain the term “special prison,” either, AP said.

North Korea’s high court claimed Mr. Bae admitted his crimes — that he smuggled anti-government documents into the hands of radicals while in the country to feed orphans and perform other acts of charity, various media reported. Washington has called for his release, and NBA legend Dennis Rodman, a self-professed friend of dictator Kim Jong-un, has vowed to travel to the country and secure his freedom.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bae has told his family in Washington state via a telephone call earlier this week that he can’t appeal his sentence. Washington will have to appeal for his amnesty is he is to be freed, he said in the phone call, AP reported.

The case comes at a time of rising tension between North Korea and the United States over the North’s much-contested missile test launch in December and promises to conduct more.