Sister echoes apology of man held in North Korea

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In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday the U.S. government “very recently” repeated its offer to send Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King to Pyongyang to seek Bae’s release. The U.S. is awaiting North Korea’s response.

Harf said the U.S. remains very concerned about Bae’s health, and is continuing to urge North to grant him amnesty and immediate release.

On Tuesday, Chung said the family appreciates all the work the U.S. government has been doing.

“We ask for ongoing advocacy to bring him home now,” she said. “He says he’s being treated well. We believe that.”

Bae’s appearance came weeks after North Korea freed an elderly American veteran of the Korean War who had been held for weeks for alleged crimes during the 1950-53 conflict.

State media said 85-year-old Merrill Newman was released because he apologized for his wrongdoing and that authorities also considered his age and medical condition. Newman said after his release that a videotaped confession was made under duress.

North Korea has detained at least seven Americans since 2009.

Bae was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 1985 with his parents and sister. He was allowed to call home on Dec. 29 because of the holidays, according to his sister. That was the first time his three children had spoken to him, she said. He has two children from an earlier marriage in Arizona and a stepdaughter who is temporarily in Hawaii. Their ages are 17, 22 and 23, Chung said.

Chung said Monday that it was difficult seeing him in his prison uniform, number 103.

“My brother is not a number to me, or to the rest of his family,” she said.

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Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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