North Korea: Yes, We Have US Citizen

Kenneth Bae accused of unspecified crimes

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 21, 2012 8:33 AM CST

(Newser) – North Korea said today that an American citizen has been detained after confessing to unspecified crimes, confirming earlier reports about his arrest. The American was identified as Pae Jun Ho in a brief dispatch issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency; US and South Korea media said Pae is known in his home state of Washington as Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old tour operator of Korean descent. North Korean state media said he arrived in the far northeastern city of Rajin on Nov. 3 as part of a tour. "In the process of investigation, evidence proving that he committed a crime against [North Korea] was revealed. He admitted his crime," the KCNA dispatch said. The North said the crimes were "proven through evidence" but did not elaborate.

The announcement of the American's detainment could be a signal from the North that it wants dialogue with the United States, says one analyst: "North Korea knows sanctions will follow its rocket launch. But in the long run, it needs an excuse to reopen talks after the political atmosphere moves past sanctions." He expects Bae to be tried and convicted in coming months; Kim Jong Un has the power to grant amnesty and will exercise it as a bargaining chip, he posits. Click for more on why Bae was reportedly nabbed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a ceremony to reopen the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a ceremony to reopen the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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