By Elizabeth Sanchez
Christian missionary Kenneth Bae recently became the longest-known American detainee in North Korea since the end of the Korean War. Bae marked one year in detention this week after being arrested by North Korean authorities in the port city of Rajin on Nov. 3, 2012.
According to the National Committee on North Korea, the Communist dictatorship has not held any known U.S. citizen longer than 12 months since a cease-fire between South and North Korea was signed in 1953.
Earlier this year, International Christian Concern (ICC) sources confirmed that Bae, an active Christian missionary based in China, was most likely arrested because of his faith-related activities around the country. Practicing Christianity is completely forbidden in North Korea, and even minor violations, including the possession of a Bible, are ruthlessly punished. Bae was sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly committing “hostile acts” against the North Korean regime.
Human rights organizations estimate that tens of thousands of North Korean Christians are currently imprisoned in labor camps across the country. Last week Michael Kirby, the chairman of a United Nations commission investigating abuses committed by the regime, said he was moved to tears by testimony from those who had escaped the notorious labor camps. North Korea is consistently listed as the top persecutor of Christians in the world.