Kenneth Bae, the American missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year, told reporters at a press conference in Pyongyang on Monday that the United States could help ensure his release if they cooperated with Kim Jong Un's government. He also admitted to commtting crimes against North Korea.
"I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country," he said, according to the Associated Press, which attended the conference.
Bae's admission of guilt might harm U.S. efforts to secure his release. American diplomats, including Vice President Joe Biden, have insisted on Bae's innocene since his arrest last year. Bae said the claims of his innocence by U.S. officials have made his situation more difficult.
However, it's worth noting that, after their release, former prisoners in North Korea often say their admissions were made under duress. From the Associated Press:
"We shouldn't take Kenneth Bae's comments merely as his own," said Kim Jin Moo, a North Korea expert at the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul. "The reason why North Korea had Kenneth Bae make this statement ... is that they want Washington to reach out to them."
"Bae's comments are an appeal to Washington to actively persuade Pyongyang to release him," Kim said.
Bae was arrested in November 2012 and eventually charged with "hostile acts" against North Korea. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in May. Earlier this month, Dennis Rodman launched into an incoherent, drunken rant after he was asked about the captured American.
[Image via AP]