U.S. citizen Bae begins sentence in North Korea prison-state media

Reuters News
Posted: May 15, 2013 9:18 AM

(Reuters) - A U.S. citizen began a 15-year hard labor sentence at a "special prison" in North Korea on Wednesday, for what authorities described as crimes against the state, North Korean state news agency KCNA said.

Kenneth Bae, 44, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in South Korea, was sentenced on April 30 after a North Korean court convicted him of what it said was an attempt at state subversion.

Members of his family had told U.S. media at the time of his sentencing that Bae had been working as a tour guide, bringing people from China into North Korea. They said they were baffled by his arrest.

Bae was one of five tourists who visited the northeastern city of Rajin in North Korea in November, and has been held since then. The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to North Korea, although it does not block trips.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Bernadette Baum)