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Kenneth Bae: 'Thank You All For ... Not Forgetting Me'

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Kenneth Bae, right, who had been held in North Korea since 2012, talks to reporters after he arrived Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., after he was freed during a top-secret mission. At left is his sister Terri Chung.

A Lynnwood, Washington man held prisoner for two years in North Korean is back home. Kenneth Bae landed Saturday night at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was accompanied by Matthew Todd Miller, another freed American prisoner.

The U.S. government plane bearing Bae and Miller of California landed at about 9 p.m. Bae was the first to walk down the stairs, luggage in hand. He was greeted and embraced by his mother, sister and nieces. Several minutes later, Bae addressed reporters.

“I just want to say thank you all for supporting me and lifting me up and not forgetting me, at the same time also not forgetting the people of North Korea,” Bae said.

Bae also thanked President Barack Obama and the North Korean government for his release.

Bae was convicted of trying to overthrow that government and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Bae was reportedly leading a tour in North Korea at the time of his capture. He’s been described as Christian missionary.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went to Pyongyang to secure the release of Bae and Miller. They are believed to have been the last two Americans to be held in the North Korea. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.