North Korea sentences American to 15 years hard labor

posted at 2:41 pm on May 2, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

An American tour operator has been sentenced to 15  years at hard labor in North Korea for attempting to overthrow the Kim regime, Pyongyang announced overnight.  Kenneth Bae becomes the latest development in a months-long rhetorical war on the Korean peninsula and the US:

North Korea on Thursday sentenced a detained American to 15 years of “compulsory labor,” punishment for what Pyongyang describes as an attempt to overthrow its government.

In a brief statement released by its state-run news agency, the North said the sentence for Kenneth Bae, a tour operator from Washington state, had been handed down by its Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Bae’s punishment complicates the decision-making for Washington, which had been hoping to open talks with the North only if Pyongyang showed signs of curbing its weapons program. The North has detained six Americans since 2009, using them in some cases to leverage high-profile rescue trips from former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Bae was arrested last November while traveling with a small group in Rason, a special economic zone. The North has provided few specifics about Bae’s actions there, but activists in Seoul speculate he was perhaps found with pictures of hungry children.

This might be an attempt by Pyongyang to find a way out of the rhetorical trap of its own making.  The Kim regime was hoping that by threatening missile tests and blustering about war, they could push the US out of conducting regular war-games exercises with the RoK military.  Instead, we upped the ante several times by conducting F117 fly-bys and gaming out amphibious landings.  Rather than get concessions on sanctions, Pyongyang instead ended up irritating everyone, including their Chinese sponsors.

In sentencing Bae to hard labor, Kim Jong-un is just taking a page from Dear Leader Daddy’s playbook.  In 2009, Bill Clinton ended up making a special trip to free two American journalists from a similar fate and open talks on sanctions concessions, which allowed Kim Jong-il to declare victory at home.  Will the US reward this play again now?  It might be annoying, but it also might be a cheap way out of the standoff, too — and that has to have a certain appeal to the White House, especially one under pressure to conduct a deeply questionable intervention in Syria.

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Not claiming “Bishop,” this is too serious an issue.

Lourdes on May 2, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Here’s an idea!

Lets go hiking along the Iraq/Iran border.

Or, take tour groups to North Korea.

Yeah, great idea.

cozmo on May 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM

North Korea sentences American to 15 years hard labor

That’s a death sentence.

itsnotaboutme on May 2, 2013 at 2:47 PM

So the fool now drags the country into his foolishness. Sorry pal but you don’t p*ss on rattlesnakes.

Limerick on May 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Instead, we upped the ante several times by conducting F117 fly-bys and gaming out amphibious landings.

Pretty sure the US didn’t conduct any recent F-117 fly-bys Ed.

DarkCurrent on May 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Send in the Unmade Bed – special envoy style – just like the blue dress, jiz guy -

Surely, the Commies want to give the Unmade Bed a heads up vs. any left of center Republican that the GOP vomits up for 2016.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Why couldn’t it have been Rodman?

GWB on May 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Probably you meant B-2

DarkCurrent on May 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Since that’s what was reported and the F-117 was retired from service several years ago.

DarkCurrent on May 2, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Uh, this, uh, is an, uh, impossibility, uh, because, uh, the only, uh, gulag that I’m, uh, aware of is, uh, Guantanamo.

- Commander Transparent

OhEssYouCowboys on May 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I guess he picked the wrong week to stop overthrowin’…

mojo on May 2, 2013 at 2:56 PM

DarkCurrent on May 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Dang, I missed that, good catch. Reading too fast.

cozmo on May 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

I sure hope someone is doing something to help this guy.

Blake on May 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Why couldn’t it have been Rodman?

GWB on May 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

hahahaa

I have been liking your style.
Stay around.

bazil9 on May 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

I suggest Mr. Bae come out and say he’s gay.

That should get him at least a phone call from Obama.

The_Livewire on May 2, 2013 at 3:05 PM

I sure hope someone is doing something to help this guy.

Blake on May 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Yeah..even if he is an idiot.
What Limerick said. ^^

bazil9 on May 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

I sure hope someone is doing something to help this guy.

Blake on May 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Yeah..even if he is an idiot.
What Limerick said. ^^

bazil9 on May 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

DarkCurrent on May 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Dang, I missed that, good catch. Reading too fast.

cozmo on May 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Yeah, right, that was it.

Lourdes on May 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM

If they were caught in N Korea, then they should be executed for stupidity. 15 years is giving him a break, imho.

Karmi on May 2, 2013 at 3:21 PM

So the fool now drags the country into his foolishness. Sorry pal but you don’t p*ss on rattlesnakes.

Limerick on May 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Well, Clinton provided his own special sort of antivenom phone-callin’ to rescue a member of the Liberal media, so maybe Obama can muster a free basketball for the kid in charge, so to speak, of North Korea and get this ‘foolish pal’ out of harm’s way.

Lourdes on May 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Instead, we upped the ante several times by conducting F117 fly-bys and gaming out amphibious landings.

Ed, F-117 has been retired for a number of years. US sent B-2′s to do some fly-bys.

AZfederalist on May 2, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead.

de rigueur on May 2, 2013 at 3:28 PM

That’s a death sentence.

itsnotaboutme on May 2, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Not quite as immediate as catching mortar rounds….

dentarthurdent on May 2, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Ed,
2nd or 3rd to Darkcurrent’s comment – it was a B-2 not F-117.

dentarthurdent on May 2, 2013 at 3:41 PM

The F-117 was retired in 2008. You need to change the plane designation, Ed.

Unless of course, you know something that we don’t?

ICBMMan on May 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I flew F-117s for 6 years at Holloman AFB…they were retired from service around 2008

tank_killer69 on May 2, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Well, Clinton provided his own special sort of antivenom phone-callin’ to rescue a member of the Liberal media, so maybe Obama can muster a free basketball for the kid in charge, so to speak, of North Korea and get this ‘foolish pal’ out of harm’s way.

Lourdes on May 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Those were chicks, though, so Clinton had some extra incentive to get them out.

GWB on May 2, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Those were chicks, though, so Clinton had some extra incentive to get them out.

GWB on May 2, 2013 at 4:27 PM

OK – since you mentioned Clinton and chicks – I gotta tell this one.
I was involved in a small way with the Y2K rollover efforts WRT Cheyenne Mountain, and building the Calendar Year 2000 Strategic Stability Center (CY2KSS) – a US-Russia jointly manned missile warning center just for the rollover.
In a planning meeting somebody mentioned we had to figure out how to pronounce the above acronym (that’s a military imperative). Someone suggested “chicks”, but someone else said “I don’t think it would be a good idea to have a special phone in Clinton’s oval office labeled “chicks” (C2YKSS) – cuz we’re likely to get a call in the middle of the night asking for a couple blondes or redheads…”

dentarthurdent on May 2, 2013 at 4:49 PM

The tour operator needed to be smart enough to stay out of nK… he wasn’t…

No bargaining for the stupid guy… not worth anything…

Khun Joe on May 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM

cozmo on May 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Khun Joe on May 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM

+100 to both of you.

dentarthurdent on May 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead.

de rigueur on May 2, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Can’t see Kim Young-un on a horse with a sword…

trigon on May 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

How about exchanging Jimmy Carter for this hostage?

njcommuter on May 2, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Since it’s a guy instead of a couple of cute chicks, I doubt Clinton would be interested in trying to get him released.

malclave on May 2, 2013 at 7:47 PM

F-117′s have been retired since 2008. Pretty sure you meant F-22′s.

Dannic on May 2, 2013 at 8:04 PM