Jailed US citizen meets mother in N. Korea: Report

Jailed US citizen meets mother in N. Korea: Report
Terri Chung, sister of Kenneth Bae, cries during a speech at a vigil for Kenneth Bae in Seattle, Washington August 10, 2013.

SEOUL - The mother of Kenneth Bae, a US citizen jailed in North Korea, was allowed to meet with her ailing son Friday and said he "did not look that bad", according to a report.

Myunghee Bae met her son, being held on charges of attempting to topple the regime, at a hospital a day after she arrived in the reclusive communist state, Japan's Kyodo News agency reported.

He is said to be suffering serious health problems and to have lost more than 50 pounds (23 kilograms) since being jailed.

But Kyodo quoted his mother, known by her Korean name Song Myung-Hee, 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 last November as he entered the northeastern port city of Rason.

He was sentenced to 15 years hard labour 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 August 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."

North Korea, which strictly bans religious proselytising, has said Bae was a Christian evangelist who brought in "inflammatory" material.

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