The mother of Kenneth Bae, a US citizen jailed in North Korea, was allowed to meet with her ailing son yesterday, Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported.
Song Myung-hee met her son, being held on charges of attempting to topple the regime, at a hospital a day after she arrived in North Korea, the report said.
He is said to be suffering serious health problems and to have lost more than 23kg since being jailed. However, Kyodo quoted his mother as saying her son “did not look that bad.”
Bae told his mother that his health had improved, Kyodo said, adding there may be another meeting between them as she is set to stay in North Korea for five days.
Bae, a 44-year-old tour operator also known by his Korean name Pae Jun-ho, was arrested in November last year as he entered the port city of Rason.
He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor on charges that he was trying to bring down the regime of its young leader, Kim Jong-un.
Bae was transferred from a prison camp to a hospital in Pyongyang on Aug. 5, said the Chosun Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan, which normally speaks for the regime in the North.
In a video released before her departure from the US, where she lives with family members, Bae’s mother expressed shock at how ill her son looked during an interview from prison in July.
“My heart was broken into pieces when his prison interview was released on July 3 because his appearance was very shocking,” she said.
“He looked so different and he lost so much weight. I could not believe that prisoner was my son,” she said.
North Korea, which strictly bans religious proselytizing, has said Bae was a Christian evangelist who brought in “inflammatory” material.
US officials say Bae is now very sick, and have called for his release as a humanitarian gesture.
SNOWDEN MEETS DAD
In other news, the father of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden held an “emotional” meeting with his son for the first time since the fugitive took refuge in Russia to escape US justice, a report said yesterday.
Lon Snowden met his son after arriving in Moscow from the US on Thursday, a source familiar with the situation told the Interfax news agency, without specifying the time or place of the meeting.
“The meeting has already taken place. It was very emotional,” the source told the agency, saying further details would not be given for security reasons.