Mother of jailed US citizen in N. Korea: report

Mother of jailed US citizen in N. Korea: report
An undated still image of a video footage released in Seoul by Yonhap News Agency on May 2, 2013, shows a portrait of US citizen Kenneth Bae.

SEOUL - The mother of Kenneth Bae, a US citizen jailed in North Korea on charges of attempting to topple the regime, has arrived in the reclusive state to see her son, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported Friday.

The Chosun Sinbo said that Song Myung-Hee flew into Pyongyang on Thursday for a five day visit to see her ailing son, who is said to have lost more than 50 pounds (23 kilograms) since being jailed and suffering serious health problems.

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 topple the regime of its young leader Kim Jong-Un.

He was transferred from a prison camp to a hospital in Pyongyang on August 5, said the newspaper, which normally speaks for the regime in the North.

In a video released before her departure, Song expressed shock at how ill her son looked during an interview from prison in July.

"I don't know what to expect when I meet my son," she said.

"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."

The mother told a Chosun Sinbo reporter in Pyongyang that the US government had accepted her request to visit North Korea. The US embassy in Seoul declined to comment on the reported visit.

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

US officials say Bae is now very sick, and have called for his release as a humanitarian gesture.

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