North Korea has decided to repeat its refusal for a U.S. envoy to discuss with Pyongyang the release of Kenneth Bae, an American businessman in jail. The State Department said it was “deeply disappointed,” while on Sunday State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki asserted that the U.S. wants Bae released.
North Korea apparently is using its refusal to release Bae as punishment for the U.S. and South Korea’s imminent joint military exercises. On Friday, a pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan quoted Bae saying he had been given word that he would indeed be visited by a U.S. envoy dealing with North Korean human rights issues between Monday and the end of February.
This follows last month’s appearance of Dennis Rodman, North Korea’s biggest fan, on CNN from Pyongyang in which he defended the jailing of Bae and berated host Chris Cuomo for asking about Bae, responding, “Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did – do you understand what Kenneth Bae did in this country?”