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Mother of American detained in North Korea visits son, says he is in better health

Myunghee Bae, the mother of Kenneth Bae, speaks with Reuters in an interview on Aug. 7.
Myunghee Bae, the mother of Kenneth Bae, speaks with Reuters in an interview on Aug. 7.David Ryder, Reuters

The mother of an American man who has been detained in North Korea for the past 11 months visited her son Friday and said he appears to be in better health.

Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being accused of using his tourism business to form groups to overthrow North Korea's authoritarian regime.

His mother, Myunghee, visited her diabetic son in hospital where he was transferred over the summer after he lost more than 50 pounds.

"I saw him in hospital," she told a TV crew from Japan's Kyodo news agency, according to Reuters. "His condition seems to be all right, not good, but seems much better."

South Korean-born Kenneth Bae has spent much of the past seven years in the North, his sister said. He was arrested in November and accused of subversive activities against the government.

The 45-year-old has previously acknowledged he was a Christian missionary and that he conducted religious services in North Korea.

The Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang Korean newspaper based in Japan, said Myunghee Bae of Lynnwood, Wash., was greeted in Pyongyang by the Swedish ambassador, according to Reuters. Sweden provides consular services for nations that do not have a direct relationship with North Korea, such as the U.S.

In a video statement before she left, Bae's mother said she was grateful for the chance to visit him and couldn't wait to hold him.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.