North Korea: Jailed Lynnwood man entered country 'with disguised identity'

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea said Sunday that it will not use imprisoned American Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood as a political bargaining chip and that it will not invite any prominent Americans to discuss a release, it was reported.

In the past, jailed Americans in North Korea were eventually released or deported after U.S. officials or former U.S. presidents such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter flew over to North Korea to meet with the leaders there.

This time, North Korea “has no plan to invite anyone of the U.S. as regards the issue,” a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying Sunday by the official Korean Central News Agency, and reported from Seoul, South Korea, by The New York Times.

Bae, 44, was sentenced last week to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly committing “hostile acts” against North Korea.

According to the Times, human rights activists in South Korea have said that Bae, from Washington state, ran a tour business in China. He visited North Korea several times and was interested in helping orphans there, they said.

North Korea said Sunday that Bae entered North Korea “with a disguised identity in an intentional way under the back-stage manipulation of the forces hostile toward the D.P.R.K.,” and committed “various crimes” which were “aimed at the state subversion.”

During his trial, Mr. Bae confessed and admitted his crimes, the North said, according to the state media.

Bae was arrested in Rason, in the northeast, in November after leading a group of businessmen there from Yanji, China.