After being detained for longer than a year, American Kenneth Bae made a statement Monday that he had committed a “serious crime” against North Korea and urges the U.S. to cooperate to secure his release.
"I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country," Bae said.
He also insisted Pyongyang does “not abuse human rights” and that he has not been treated badly during his confinement.
He claimed he requested the press conference himself. He spoke in Korean and wore a grey inmate uniform, The Associated Press reported.
“We shouldn't take Kenneth Bae's comments merely as his own,” said Kim Jin Moo, an expert on North Korea 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 added.
Foreign analysts say North Korea is attempting to make better alliances with Seoul and Washington to bolster their struggling economy.
Bae’s story was thrown into the national spotlight this month when former pro-basketball player Dennis Rodman took nine other former NBA stars to Pyongyang to perform a demonstration game for Kim Jong Un’s birthday. The move was largely criticized in the U.S. by politicians, the NBA, and Bae’s family.
Bae, who ran a tour group in Korea, was detained on Nov. 3, 2012, accused of committing crimes against the state, and condemned to 15 years in a labor camp. Last month, Vice President Joe Biden said Bae is being help for no reason.
Rodman was accused of not using his connection to Kim to secure Bae’s release. In a shocking interview with CNN this month, Rodman even implied that Bae had committed a crime. Rodman later apologized and checked himself into rehab.