Kenneth Bae spent two years in a North Korean prison and knew exactly what he wanted when he arrived back in the United States: a pizza pie. The American missionary said he spent those two years eating Korean food and working at a hard labor camp in the isolated dictatorship, and more Korean food was the last thing he wanted to eat when he stepped off a U.S. government plane in his native Washington state.
Bae’s sister said after two years in North Korea, he is suffering from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain. Bae was flown to a military base south of Seattle Saturday night on a flight with fellow American prisoner Matthew Miller and James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence.
Despite harsh treatment during his captivity, Bae said he harbors no ill feelings toward the North Korean authorities who detained him. He “still has a tremendous heart for North Korea,” his sister Terri Chung told reporters Sunday. “He has only the best wishes and intentions for that country.”
Bae and Miller are the second and third American prisoners to be released by North Korea in recent weeks. Jeffrey Fowle, who was detained after leaving a bible in a bathroom at a North Korean club was released after five months in captivity in late October.
Bae was sentenced to 15 years and imprisoned in North Korea in 2012 after being accused of speaking out against the North Korean government as he led a tour group in the country. Miller was sentenced by a North Korean court to serve six years in jail for alleged espionage after he reportedly tore up his tourist visa at a Pyongyang airport and requested asylum. North Korean authorities say Miller wanted to serve time in a prison camp to expose injustices.
With Bae's and Miller's releases, there currently are no Americans being held by North Korea. The details of any of the recent releases have not been released by the U.S. government.