Derek Sciba, a family friend of Washington state’s Kenneth Bae, held for more than a year in North Korea, sits in an office in Seattle on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. “Our end goal is to see Kenneth reunited so he can recover emotionally and physically. He has chronic health problems,” Sciba said. (AP Photo/Donna Blankinship)
SEATTLE (AP) — The family of an American missionary held more than a year in North Korea was heartbroken and encouraged by a brief news conference in which Kenneth Bae, wearing a gray cap and inmate’s uniform with the number 103 on his chest, apologized and said he committed anti-government acts.
“My brother is not a number to me, or to the rest of his family,” his sister Terri Chung of Edmonds, Wash., said in a statement Monday. “He is a kind and loving husband, father, son and brother — and needs to be home immediately.”
Chung also apologized to North Korea and pleaded for it to release Bae, saying the family is concerned for his health and she could “see that he was distressed.”
“Our family sincerely apologizes on Kenneth’s behalf,” she said. “We humbly ask for your mercy to release my brother.”
Family friend Derek Sciba told The Associated Press that Bae has chronic health problems.
“On the one hand it’s heartbreaking to see him in a prison uniform at the mercy of folks in North Korea, but on the other hand it’s encouraging to see him and that he’s able to speak,” Sciba said. He is a friend of Chung’s and part of a group pushing for Bae’s release.