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Held by North Korea, Kenneth Bae feels abandoned by U.S., report says

By KJ Kwon and Madison Park, CNN
updated 4:14 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Family pleads with Washington to negotiate Kenneth Bae's release
  • Bae, arrested in November 2012, remains in North Korea
  • Pro-North Korean paper: Bae feels abandoned by U.S. government
  • Bae says he still suffers medical problems and is worried about going back to labor camp

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- Kenneth Bae, an American citizen detained in North Korea for almost two years, said he feels like the U.S. government has abandoned him, according to a pro-North Korea newspaper.

Bae gave an interview to Choson Sinbo, a newspaper based in Japan, which has been given access to Bae in the past.

The newspaper published a picture of Bae wearing a blue prison garment in an interview that it said took place on July 30.

Bae said that he heard the U.S. government is doing everything it can to have him released and thanked the American and North Korean government for allowing him to speak to his family over the phone and for medical treatment.

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American's plea from North Korean prison

A written family statement acknowledged the U.S. State Department's work behind the scenes, but called for "urgent action" from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry because of his Bae's health.

"With Kenneth's health continuing to deteriorate, we cannot afford to wait any longer," the family said. "Please do whatever it takes to bring Kenneth home. It is long past time. This is our desperate plea."

Friday is his 42nd birthday, the family said.

There is no sign of this issue being solved, according to the paper. The United States is working with Sweden, which represents American interests in North Korea.

Bae said he is suffering from several health problems and is worried that his condition will worsen when he returns to a special labor camp soon. Bae was readmitted to a hospital in Pyongyang in March.

"He expressed anxiety that if he is to go back to the labor camp, such symptoms may become worse and said he is stressed that he is unable to pay fees for the hospital treatments," the newspaper reported.

READ: Kenneth Bae worried about his health in North Korean camp

Bae, of Lynwood, Washington, was arrested in November 2012 in Rason, along North Korea's northeastern coast. Pyongyang sentenced him last year to 15 years of hard labor, accusing him of planning to bring down the government through religious activities. He is widely reported to have been carrying out Christian missionary work in North Korea.

Bae is one of three Americans held in North Korea. Matthew Miller Todd was taken into custody on April 10 and Jeffrey Fowle, from Ohio, was detained in June for breaking a law, according to North Korea's state news agency.

"The three Americans who are being held in North Korea are a great concern to us. We've communicated with the North Koreans our concern," Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, told a congressional hearing Wednesday.

"We've requested repeatedly that they be released on humanitarian grounds."

More on detained Americans

North Korea prepares to prosecute 2 American tourists

CNN's Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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