The North Korean government said Monday it will not negotiate with the United States on the matter of releasing two American prisoners until former detainee Kenneth Bae stops publicly talking about about his own time in the country's prisons.
North Korea arrested Bae, an American missionary, in 2012 and originally sentenced him to 15 years' labor in the country's notorious work camps. His release was secured two years later and he has written an account of his time there. The book, Not Forgotten: The True Story of My Imprisonment in North Korea, was released in May. Bae has done corresponding interviews and public appearances related to the book, which appear to have particularly offended the government.
%shareLinks-quote="As long as Kenneth Bae continues his babbling, we will not proceed with any compromise or negotiations with the United States on the subject of American criminals, and there will certainly not be any such thing as humanitarian action" type="quote" author="KCNA " authordesc="news agency of North Korea" isquoteoftheday="false"%
"As long as Kenneth Bae continues his babbling, we will not proceed with any compromise or negotiations with the United States on the subject of American criminals, and there will certainly not be any such thing as humanitarian action," the state KCNA news agency of North Korea said Monday.
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"If Bae continues, U.S. criminals held in our country will be in the pitiful state of never being able to set foot in their homeland once again," the broadcast continued.
Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student from Ohiowho was sentenced earlier this year to 15 years' hard labor for allegedly trying to steal a North Korean banner bearing the name of the former leader, Kim Jong Il. Additionally, in April, North Korea convicted Korea-American missionary Kim Dong Chul of crimes against the state, and sentenced him to 10 years of labor.
"Because I was there for two years, during the 735 days that I was there, I spent time with people in the North and was able to get a better idea of their reality. I also got to see with my own eyes how difficult things are for them," Bae said in May. "If one day the South and North are reunified, wouldn't it be great if we could all live together and move forward as one nation? This has become one of my greatest hopes."
Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations. Traditionally, the release of U.S. prisoners has been secured through high-profile American visit, such as Bill Clinton's in 2009 to secure the release of two imprisoned American journalists.