An American detained for nearly six months in North Korea has been sentenced to 15 years of labor for crimes against the state, the North's state media said Thursday, a development that further complicates already strained ties between Pyongyang and Washington.
The sentencing of Kenneth Bae, described by friends as a devout
Christian and a tour operator, comes amid signs of tentative diplomacy
following weeks of rising tensions in the region. North Korea had been
warning of nuclear war and missile strikes, an angry response to U.N.
sanctions for conducting a long-range rocket launch in December and a
nuclear test in February, as well as U.S.-South Korean military drills
in South Korea.
Analysts say Pyongyang could use Bae as a bargaining chip as it seeks dialogue with Washington.