North Korea recently returned American prisoner Kenneth Bae from a hospital to a labor camp.
According to an AP report, his sister, Terri Chung is concerned about his health and well-being. Chung had this to say about her brother, who reportedly was hospitalized after rapidly losing 50 pounds:
"He's back to eight-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week hard labor. We can't help but be concerned about that."
Bae reportedly has liver problems, an enlarged heart, diabetes and back pain.
Bae's family isn't alone in their concern. U.S. government officials have weighed in and now, according to a CNN report, sports agent David Sugarman has joined the effort to return Bae to the United States. Sugarman represents retired NBA star Kenny Anderson - who joined Dennis Rodman in his infamous visit to North Korea.
"Human to human, I'm asking you to release Kenneth Bae. I'm going to take it a step further: If the North Korea government actually needs somebody in North Korea, take David Sugarman. Allow me to go there. I'm younger. I'm healthier. You have released prisoners before, and I'm asking you to release Kenneth Bae."
While it's a magnanimous gesture, it's unlikely that the North Korean dictator would agree to that kind of prisoner exchange.
Bae has been accused of trying to overthrow the North Korean government through religious activity.
Kenneth Bae is a devout Christian. He runs a company that specializes in North Korean tours. The company is based in neighboring China. President Obama described Bae as a missionary while calling for his release at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. According to the AP report, the president said:
"We pray for Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who has been held in North Korea for 15 months. His family wants him home, and the United States will continue to do everything in our power to secure his release because Kenneth Bae deserves to be free."
Bae admitted to conducting anti-government activities in a Jan. 20 news conference. He apologized to the North Korean government, claimed he has not been abused and added, "I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country."
The US State Department has indicated that they are ready to send an ambassador to discuss Bae's situation with representatives of North Korea. As of this time, there don't appear to be any plans to send sports agent David Sugarman, but according to CNN, US Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) said:
"People like David (Sugarman) should be all over the country. Churches and synagogues should be pleading to this government that this has nothing to do with communism and the United States of America. It's a brother and a father and a son, and they should be responding to this effort."
What do you think? Will it help for Americans - and particularly American religious organizations - to put pressure on North Korea to release Kenneth Bae?