An American has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea after entering the country as a tourist.
Kenneth Bae, also known by his South Korean birth name Pae Jun-ho, was tried on Tuesday for anti-government crimes. The state news agency made a statement today announcing his sentence.
Mr Bae, 44, a tour company director, was arrested in November last year after entering North Korea with four other tourists for a five-day trip, and has been held since at an undisclosed location. He was convicted and sentenced for charges of “hostile acts” against the country.
Mr Bae, who is married with children, is a committed Christian and is thought to have used his trips for humanitarian work.
The move comes amid high tensions between North Korea and the US, after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test.
North Korean media said last week that Mr Bae had admitted the charges including attempting to overthrow the government. Although born in South Korea, Mr Bae is an American citizen and has spent much of his life in the US. South Korean activists say he might have been arrested for taking photos of starving children in North Korea.
The North Korean statement was brief, and referred to him by his South Korean name. “A trial of Pae Jun-ho, an American citizen, took place at the Supreme Court of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on April 30.
“He was arrested while committing hostile acts against the DPRK after entering Rason City as a tourist on November 3 last year. The Supreme Court sentenced him to 15 years of compulsory labour for this crime.”