Kenneth Bea in his first interview since his release in late 2014, he described what he went through as grueling labor and verbal torment with the hope of coming back home.
Kenneth Bea was the longest-held U.S. citizen detained in North Korea since the Korean War. In 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts” in the country.
“I worked from 8 a.m. to 6 pm. at night, working on the field, carrying rock, shoveling coal,” Kenneth Bae told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
Adding to the physical pain was the verbal abuse he received from North Korean officials, Bae said.
kenneth bae said one prosecutor repeatedly told him, “‘No one remembers you. You have been forgotten by people, your government. You’re not going home anytime soon. You’ll be here for 15 years. You’ll be 60 before you go home.’ ”
But after a flurry of diplomatic efforts, Kenneth Bea was released. Even now, a year and a half later, Bae told Cuomo it’s amazing to be back on U.S. soil.
“I’m thankful every day and grateful for so many people that were involved in trying to get me home,” he said. “It’s unreal just to see that I’m actually sitting in the studio talking to you … 735 days in North Korea was long enough. But I’m thankful.” [Kenneth Bae]