Jesse Jackson Wants to Go to North Korea to Bring Kenneth Bae Home

Kenneth Bae’s family and the State Department support Jackson’s effort to facilitate Bae’s release.

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Jesse Jackson

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Jesse Jackson is no Dennis Rodman, but he is hoping that he can be the one to get Kenneth Bae, an American missionary imprisoned in North Korea, set free, and he has the full blessing of the State Department, Buzzfeed reports.

"At the request of the Bae family, I think people are aware that Rev. Jesse Jackson had offered to travel to Pyongyang on a humanitarian mission focused on Bae’s release," said deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf in the State Department daily press briefing, Buzzfeed reports. "We support the efforts, of course, of the family, but also of Rev. Jackson to bring Kenneth Bae home. So again we want him to come home, the North Koreans should release him, and we stand ready to send our folks in certainly, Ambassador King, if they reissue an offer."

North Korea rescinded their invitation to Robert King, the State Department’s North Korea representative, this week. This is the second time they have rescinded the invitation as King planned to travel to Pyongyang to negotiate Bae’s release, Buzzfeed reports.  

There is no word on whether the State Department has had contact with Jackson about traveling to Pyongyang.

"We have been speaking with Rev. Jackson for the last few weeks," said Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, in a statement.

Bae was sentenced last year to 15 years of hard labor for "hostile acts" against the North Korean government, although Bae's "hostile acts" have never been defined. He was recently transferred from a hospital back to a labor camp, Buzzfeed notes.

A State Department official told Buzzfeed that Jackson "has been interested in helping with these things around the world" and "he’s someone who we do support him doing things like this."

"My mother and I had the opportunity to meet with Rev. Jackson and have been touched by his warmth, generosity of spirit and his investment in bringing Kenneth home," Chung said. "Regardless of the outcome, we are deeply grateful to Rev. Jackson for his proactive pursuits of Kenneth’s freedom."

Read more at Buzzfeed.


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