My father—like any other American father—was working hard to provide for his family. Through his tour company that he started, he was able to show the natural beauty of North Korea to many. My father was arrested on November 3, 2012 while working as a tour operator in Rason (Rajin-Sonbong), one of North Korea’s special economic zones for foreign investors. My father is a good man with the biggest heart for the people and nation of North Korea, and now he has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what the DPRK identified as anti-government activities.
On July 3, 2013, the eve of two important events—America’s Independence Day and my grandfather’s 70th birthday—a video of my father was released from the North Korean labor camp. My family was shocked to see him! He had lost a significant amount of weight, and his time in prison has clearly taken a toll on his health—and this was only two months into his 15-year sentence. The video showed my father working eight hours of physical labor in the fields, plowing and farming six days a week. He has chronic health conditions, including diabetes, heart problems and back pain, which require close monitoring and medical treatment. We don’t know how quickly his health will deteriorate and how much longer his body can withstand the impact of the labor camp.
In my father’s prison interview, he asked for help from the United States government. He tells us that the only way to bring him home will be for the United States government to take more proactive action to secure Special Amnesty from the DPRK. My father had hopes of being home to celebrate his father’s 70th birthday, which was on the Fourth of July. I can only imagine that his hope now is to make it through another day, one day at a time until he is finally reunited with his family.
My family and I have hopes, too. We have been distraught by my father’s deteriorating health and his sentence of hard labor. However, we have not given up hope because we have faith in our government to represent and protect American citizens here and abroad.
Please sign my petition asking the Obama Administration to pursue every course of possible action, without delay, to secure Special Amnesty for my father and allow him to come home to his family and friends.