North Korea Sentences American Citizen to 15 Years After He Photographed Homeless Orphans

White House administration officials have called for the immediate release of a U.S. citizen recently sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old Korean-American tour guide in the region, has been convicted of “hostile acts” against the regime. Activists in South Korea say that the charges—which have been left intentionally vague by North Korean officials—may stem from Bae further exposing poor humanitarian conditions in the isolated country. Along with oppressive government laws, secret prisons and chronic food shortages, there are also groups of homeless, at-risk orphans in the country that Bae had photographed in an effort to bring attention to the issue.

In the past, North Korea has publicized harsh sentences for Americans in the country on trumped-up charges, prompting diplomatic visits from former Presidents Clinton and Carter. Analysts believe the latest case may be another effort to engage American leadership in talks about lifting sanctions that resulted from illegal nuclear weapons tests …

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