SEOUL, June 20 (UPI) — North Korea has a message for former captive Kenneth Bae: Stop talking, or else U.S. prisoners in Pyongyang’s custody won’t be released.
State-controlled news agency KCNA said Monday that North Korea will “neither make any compromise nor conduct negotiations” with the United States as long as Bae keeps “jabbering” about his term of imprisonment, Yonhap reported.
“American criminals now in custody in [North Korea] will never be able to go back to the U.S.,” KCNA added.
Bae, a U.S. missionary who was arrested in 2012 and released in 2014, had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea on charges of carrying out religious activities.
The imprisonment took a heavy toll on Bae’s health, and he was hospitalized three times for diabetes, an enlarged heart and back pain.
Bae recently published a memoir and has been interviewed by several U.S. television networks.
North Korea has in custody two U.S. citizens: University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier and Kim Dong Chul, a resident of Fairfax, Va.
Warmbier, arrested on charges of stealing a North Korean propaganda banner, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
Kim, 62, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor on charges of spying in October 2015.
Monday’s KCNA announcement was preceded by a similar condemnation from the Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang news outlet based in Japan.
“Any release of Americans will run into a brick wall because of [Bae’s] acts,” the Japan-based website stated Friday.