North Korea has withdrawn its invitation for Bob King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights, to travel to Pyongyang, the State Department announced today.
King was supposed to travel from Tokyo to the North Korean capital Friday in order to seek the release of Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old American tour operator and Christian missionary, who was arrested by the Communist nation last year on grounds of subversion. Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor this past April and was recently hospitalized.
Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009; all previous American prisoners were freed without serving out their sentences after visits by prominent Americans, such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. King also previously visited Pyongyang to work out the 2011 release of an American captive, Eddie Jun, a California man who also allegedly conducted unauthorized missionary work.
Had the trip gone ahead as originally planned, King would have been the first Obama administration to visit North Korea in over two years.