U.S. President Barack Obama offered a prayer Thursday for the quick and safe release of detained Korean-American Kenneth Bae.
Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering of lawmakers and numerous faith leaders, Obama said Bae, a Christian missionary sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea, should be set free, and the U.S. will do everything it can to help him.
"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."
Washington has already offered to send a special envoy to North Korea to secure Bae's release, but Pyongyang hasn't mustered up a response.
It was the first time Obama has mentioned Kenneth Bae, in a strong sign the State Department is taking the matter seriously.
Bae was arrested in North Korea in November 2012, when he was working in the country as a tourist guide.
The North charged him with crimes against the state and attempting to overthrow the regime.
At the gathering, Obama also said China should do more to recognize the freedom of religion, calling it essential to the country's national security.
"When I meet with Chinese leaders, and we do a lot of business with the Chinese, but I stress that realizing China's potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims."
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
And this just in
A pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan says U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights Robert King will visit Pyongyang on Monday or later this month to secure the release of Kenneth Bae.