State Dept. envoy heading to North Korea to get U.S. citizen freed
August 28, 2013 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
- Kenneth Bae was arrested in North Korea in November
- North Korea's supreme court sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor
- Bae's sister says his health has seriously deteriorated
Washington (CNN) -- A State Department special envoy will travel to North Korea this week to try to free Kenneth Bae, the U.S. citizen detained there since November, the State Department and White House said Tuesday.
Ambassador Robert King, the president's special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will head to Pyongyang at North Korea's invitation, the State Department said.
King, currently traveling in the region, will go to the capital Friday, the White House said.
North Korea's supreme court sentenced Bae in April to 15 years of hard labor. His sister, Terri Chung, told CNN two weeks ago that Bae was recently moved to a hospital because of a serious decline in his health.
North Korea defectors speak at UN inquiry
Koreans push for family reunions
Imprisoned American's sister speaks out
The court found Bae guilty of carrying out "serious crimes" against North Korea, including setting up bases in China for the purpose of toppling the North Korean government, encouraging North Korean citizens to bring down the government, and conducting a smear campaign, according to the country's state media.
Kenneth Bae: Please help me
The media also say Bae planned an operation to bring down the government through religious activities.
Chung says her brother was the owner of a tour company who was in North Korea for work.
King will ask Pyongyang to pardon Bae and grant him special amnesty on humanitarian grounds "so that he can be reunited with his family and seek medical treatment," the State Department said.
Bae suffers from severe back and leg pain and has lost more than 50 pounds, Chung told CNN earlier this month.
Chung said she received the information from the State Department, which told her the Swedish ambassador visited Bae in the hospital. Sweden represents U.S. interests in North Korea because the United States has no diplomatic presence there.
Bae also suffers from kidney stones, dizziness, blurred vision and loss of vision, Chung said. He was already dealing with other health problems, including diabetes.
North Korea agrees to family reunions with the South, report says
CNN's Jill Dougherty and Adam Aigner-Treworgy contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Satellite images suggest North Korea's infamous labor camps are growing, says Amnesty International.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 0748 GMT (1548 HKT)
Seems like Dennis Rodman can't get enough of North Korea, as he prepares for his third visit on December 18.
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 1816 GMT (0216 HKT)
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for Merrill Newman, a Korean War veteran who had long wanted to go to North Korea.
November 20, 2013 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
A drug bust in the U.S. could bolster claims that North Korea's government allows or aids in the illegal drug trade.
October 21, 2013 -- Updated 1541 GMT (2341 HKT)
The mother of U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae visits her son and tells CNN she fears for his future.
October 22, 2013 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
North Korean authorities deleted these images before allowing a journalist to leave the country. Why? Judge for yourself.
October 4, 2013 -- Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT)
The shocking story of nine young defectors who tried to flee North Korea ... only to be sent back agonizingly close to freedom.
September 26, 2013 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
About 40 Western cyclists from seven countries raced from China into the North Korean border.
September 18, 2013 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
United Nations' inquiry report documents horrific experiences about human rights violations in North Korea.
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
South Korean fisherman Jeon Wook-pyo set out on a boat in the Yellow Sea more than 40 years ago -- and didn't get home till Friday.
September 12, 2013 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
Satellite images of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility have again raised questions about whether the country has restarted its plutonium production reactor.
August 30, 2013 -- Updated 1040 GMT (1840 HKT)
A report says as many as two-thirds of North Koreans have used methamphetamines and the border regions are awash with addicts.
August 9, 2013 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
The North Koreans have gone all out for the 60th anniversary of the end of hostilities in the Korean War.
August 6, 2013 -- Updated 1436 GMT (2236 HKT)
CNN's Paula Hancocks describes what she saw from a bus window three hours north of Pyongyang.
Today's five most popular stories