tv Somebodys Gotta Do It With Mike Rowe CNN November 8, 2014 9:00pm-10:01pm PST
state. on this airplane we believe is kenneth bae, held for more than two years by north korea, and matthew todd miller, who had been detained since april. their release came after u.s. national intelligence director james clapper flew to the capital of north korea, pyongyang, at the north's invitation to discuss these two men. he apparently carried a letter from president obama to north korean leader kim jong un. less than a month ago north korea released american jeffrey fowle. he had spent five months in detention. there are now no other u.s. citizens detained in north korea. north korea issued a statement about the two americans saying in part, "president obama made repeated requests and an earnest apology and assured a guarantee there would be no recurrence of similar incidents." north korea has alleged that kenneth bae was there to
proselytize for his religion and that matthew todd miller upon arrival tore up his visa and asked for asylum. we don't know the real story on that, but certainly we will get it as they arrive back. washington has not confirmed anything about what was in that letter or how this evolved. but this is a developing story that we are covering on many fronts as this airplane taxis with these two men on board who must be very relieved that they have been released from north korea. and we'll be talking with friends of kenneth bae's family, our correspondents in south korea, experts on north korea. we have with us there live cnn correspondent ana cabrera. why don't you set the stage what you're seeing there.
>> reporter: i'm going to step out of the way so you can zoom into the action. you can see the plane arriving. kenneth bae the 46-year-old who's been held for two years in north korea as well as 25-year-old matthew todd miller. we understand on the plane with him is the director of national intelligence james clapper. also a delegation of u.s. officials who went to north korea as well who are accompanying bae and miller as they now land home in the united states. we also understand their families, both men's families are here and will be greeting them as soon as they step off the plane. you can only imagine the excitement and joy and anticipation they must be feeling at this moment. again, a much-anticipated and long-awaited arrival, especially for the bae family who have been working so hard to try to secure his release for the past two
years. it was november 3rd, 2012 when we learned kenneth bae was detained and arrested. both men in fact facing charges and eventually convicted in these cases of hostile acts against the government of north korea and they were sentenced to hard labor. you may recall the interview that our will ripley did with these two men as well as jeffrey fowle when they were still detained just a couple of months ago in which they pleaded for the u.s. to send a special envoy perhaps to try to secure their release. there are a few men walking toward the plane. we don't know who they are. but we are told it's family members who have been greeted as soon as they land and get off the plane. this is a very important time for the family. it's unclear at this point the health of these two men. we know kenneth bae was suffering.
he had diabetes, was suffering with kidney stones. his family was concerned about it, particularly after that last interview he did with will ripley. it will be exciting and we'll wait to see exactly how they're doing as they get ready to greet their families and embrace each other for the first time in many months. even the last couple of years. i can tell you we did receive a statement from the bae family earlier today and i'll read a portion of it for you. it said "words cannot adequately express our relief and gratitude that kenneth is finally coming home. we've been waiting and praying for this day for two years. this ordeal has been excruciating for the family. but we are filled with joy right now." and so it's with that joy that they wait anxiously to be able to hug his sister. she said she was so excited to do that. she also mentioned that he has three children. he has a wife. he is from washington state. as he steps off the plane, he is home home now on american soil.
and we also know that matthew todd miller is from california. he'll be making his way here. but we don't know the exact timeline on that at this moment. looks like kenneth bae who just stepped off the plane, he's walking comfortably it looks like toward the side where he is now embracing a family member. there are several family members who appear to be here. loved ones. family friends who are greeting him. hugging him. lots of hugs. and smiles. is what we're seeing. >> ana, as you were saying. insight into how he was treated and what kind of help he got for his health condition. but he walked right off that plane. and right into the arms of his family.
that has to be quite a moment for him. waiting to see matthew todd miller come off the airplane right now. do we know anything about what's next for them? are they debriefed by government officials? released to their family? do we know? >> reporter: not a lot of information. in fact, we were asking officials on base. there was a state department official we spoke to earlier who was not able to provide that information. essentially what he told us is these men are free. welcome to do as they please and what they choose to do now that they are back in the u.s. is really up to them. there wasn't any specific guidelines as far as whether they would be interviewed, debriefed, if they had some plans in order to talk with government officials upon landing. it sounded to us like they would be allowed to go back with their families and carry on with their lives. we're working to get more information on that but that's
the latest guidelines we've been provided. >> have you seen any sign of matthew miller yet? we're looking at kenneth bae, so we can't see the airplane now. >> reporter: no, what you're seeing is what we're seeing. i'm watching the airplane right now and really kenneth bae is where, you know, this moment is at the moment. nobody else is stepping off the plane. the door of the plane is still open. we were told again by the officials on the ground here from mcchord field as well as the state department that both families were going to be greeting the men as they arrived here. but again, right now we are just seeing kenneth bae and his family as they've been reunited and are going to be walking into the building. we are hoping they may have a few words they would like to share with all of us, but obviously it's a private moment for their families and a special moment. we'll wait and see if they feel up to talking with the media at all tonight but they're going inside to just continue in that
reunification and that special moment with each other. >> can't imagine what kenneth bae would have to say after spending two years in custody of the north korean government. a place so eerie and so ere secretive and so poor economically of course. still waiting for word on -- >> reporter: we can tell you that kenneth bae did say to our will ripley a couple monuments ago that he was working in some kind of labor camp. he had been working eight hours a day six days a week in a field and that was really the only information we had as to what the conditions were like, as to how he was being treated and what his daily life was like in north korea. so we sure hope to learn a little bit more about what went on and hope to learn more of the answers to the questions we have surrounding why now and this release that has been long awaited, natalie.
>> where do these men live? are they both on the west coast? is that the reason they've chosen this place to arrive? >> reporter: kenneth bae is right here in washington state. he is from lynwood, washington, which is just a little bit north of seattle. one of the reasons i think so many family members were able to greet him here today. this is home home for him. also matthew miller is from the west coast. he's from california. from bakersfield, california. again, we don't know what the plans are exactly for these two gentlemen after arriving in the u.s. right now but we understand they both will be reunited with their family and where they go from here is really up to them. we just got word that matthew miller should be coming off the plane any moment. so we will continue to keep our camera fixed on that. we do see a handful of people walking toward the plane. and also everybody's eyes are fixed on that door to see if matthew miller is the next person to come off.
but i'll send it back to you for now, natalie, as we continue to watch and wait. >> yes. for any viewers who are just joining us, after you might have been clicking through and seeing that cnn is in breaking news, we're following a developing story here. two americans who've been held by the north koreans were released and they have just landed back at this air base in tacoma, washington. kenneth bae was just reunited with his family there on the tarmac, and we're waiting for matthew todd miller, who's been held by north korea since april to step off this airplane next. they will move inside to a hangar area or building and we'll wait and see if there are any statements made, anything for a news conference. i think the second gentleman coming off there could be matthew miller. i guess so because he's getting a hug. that must be perhaps his parents. let's just give it a moment.
yes, that's him. ana, as we watch this, you mentioned will ripley's interview with this man matthew miller. he looked quite stowic and quite serious in that interview. of course he's probably under duress. wary of what to say. but he was allowed to give an interview. and that's unusual. >> reporter: all three men who were being detained at that moment were provided -- put before will ripley for this interview, and he was given a very short amount of time, and we were aware that the north korean government was watching that interview as well. and so it was -- there was a lot of uncertainty as to they were saying things they had been maybe coerced to say or felt pressure to say or if it was
really from the heart. this is so fun to watch to see him here with his family and them being able to converse. we did hear from him at the time that he was very concerned he would be sentenced soon or he would be facing his trial soon and didn't really know what the future held for him in north korea. a and it was just a short time ago he had actually been convicted of hostile acts against the government and sentenced to six years of hard labor. fortunately for matthew todd miller, though, he really didn't have to serve out hardly any of that sentence and he is now home. he is free and he is back with his family. they walked into the building where they can continue to have their conversation and reconnect, natalie. >> what a moment for these two men. interesting flight, i am sure, for them from north korea back to washington state. it will be interesting to see if they've had any contact with their families. but if you're just joining us,
again, we are covering this developing story. two americans back from north korea. kenneth bae was held for two years. matthew miller for six months. our correspondent out of seoul, south korea is paula hancocks, and she has covered these two men's ordeal. she's covered the north korea-south korea issue for some time. she joins us now live. >> reporter: with kenneth bae the first lady she hugged, i spoke to her a year ago and she was allowed to go into north korea. only member of his family that was allowed to go to pyongyang to visit him. that was a very emotional moment as she realized just how ill he looked.
we saw his sister terry chung there. she's been very vocal in trying to lobby for his release. he has diabetes. he has heart problems. it was a matter of urgency according to the family he came home. and now you see he has come home. he was sentenced to hard labor. six years hard labor. he's serving a couple months of that. >> i was reading something about why one perspective was to
solidify his power so he could get a senior official with the obama administration to come to north korea. bear in mind it said he'd made an apology. north korea saying the most powerful man in the world has apologize odd to me, so i'm giving this humanitarian gesture. we know general clapper had gone with a letter from the u.s. president. we don't know exactly what it said. we know it was short and we know he had -- the president had said
clapper was his personal envoy and speaking -- of course from -- significant that he was able to say the u.s. president, the most powerful man in the world apologized. and of course knowledge happens in north korea without a reason. everything heavily choreographed. everything is assessed very closely. and even if it is the case that washington says there were no conditions and there was no quid pro quo for this certainly pyongyang would be looking to get something out of this in the future. >> do we have any idea if the director of national intelligence who went there, james clapper, if he went with kim jong un? >> reporter: we understand he did not. this is what officials are telling us. or at least we have he did. it would be -- then tire day and night has been quite surprising. but it would be very surprising if he had met with the north
korean leader. the presidents who have headed to pyongyang in the past, they have met with the leader, the late kim jong il, but of course to meet with kim jong un, such a high level, the highest level in the country, you would assume it wouldn't be clapper. but of course we don't have a huge number of details from washington at this point. we're waiting for more clarification for exactly what was in that letter that was hand-carried by clapper will be interesting. this is a very significant thing, the fact that the director of national intelligence actually carried from the main man in washington. washington and pyongyang don't have diplomatic -- the chief -- the commander in chief to hand a letter to the commander of chief in pyongyang is significant. there were -- between the two but here that is the most direct
contact we have seen between these two leaders. >> paula, thanks. we're getting? dropout in your audio with our live signal to you. so we'll get back to you with more perspective on the story. let's turn elsewhere now for kenneth bae's family. of course it's a day they and my next guest have been waiting a long time for. david sugarman is founder of the bring bae back campaign and a close friend of the bae family. david, you worked passionately to keep kenneth bae in the spotlight. you did a good job that. describe it's important. you know? i put a lot of time and a lot of effort and i met a lot of great people congressman, senators, madam secretary clinton, all through this -- through kenneth bae and the bring bay back campaign so today has been a very emotional day for me. i've spoke with the family a bunch of times so it's just --
it's really, really amazing to actually -- it's so surreal to see this. >> i'm certain he was just working in a field and in north korea and now he's stepping off of an airplane that says united states of america there on the west coast right near his home. i can't imagine what he's going through. when did you first learn that clapper was going there with this letter from the president. >> probably around the same time all of your listeners did. i learned while i was watching cnn this morning. i was home and i -- i saw on the bottom of the screen that it says kenneth bae released. that's when i learned it. about two minutes after i saw that story, the ambassador from north korea called my cell phone and asked me to say thank you to him which i did do.
i had dinner with him last week. it was really, really surreal and exciting. >> let's back up to the start of the kenneth bae story why he went to north korea and how he learned he had been detained? >> you know i'm a sports agent and one of my partners is a gentleman by the name of kenny anderson who is a former all star in the nba. he went to north korea for kim jong-un's birthday that played a charity game with a gentleman by the name of dennis rodman so when kenny went, i learned about kenneth bae based on dennis's behavior on the chris cuomo show and i started googling who kenneth bae was. i had no idea who he was. i knew what was going on in north korea but i didn't know who kenneth was. i read about it the following day. i sent an e-mail to terry. her lovely mother offering any help whether it would be raising
money, raising political awareness, bringing in celebrities or athletes, so on and so forth. two days later, i met with them in new york city and at that point, i started the bring bae back campaign which -- the initial objective was to raise public awareness of kenneth bae. >> that's interesting because many question dennis rodman, these basketball players going there to north korea and why were they there? and dennis rodman being there got you attached to the story and you heard kenneth bae and so you got to work on this. you mentioned terry so if people are just joining us, i want to read again as we see kenneth bae getting hugs from his family. this was just about 15 minutes ago she said words could not adequately express our relief and gratitude that kenneth is finally coming home. we've been waiting for and praying for this day for two years. this ordeal has been excruciating for the family but we are filled with joy right now. in your campaign to bring
kenneth home, david, what did you experience? what did you learn about north korea and kenneth's stay there and his treatment? >> well, i appreciate the question. i mean, i've learned a lot. you know, my travel on this journey has been very interesting. right. so congressman rangal and jesse jackson, i've developed some really good friends because of this. but more importantly than that, i spent from february 8th until about mid-june reaching out to the ambassador of the dprk who is the ambassador to the un at the mission here in new york. i've had six or seven meeting with them. i had dinner with them last week, the week before, when i say them, i'm referring to counselor and ambassador of the dprk. i really enjoyed my time with them. they were very open with me.
we spoke quite often about kenneth bae. i had them relay messages back to the dprk and north korea about what i wanted to see happen. it seemed like there were so many events that one would say could be coincidental. i don't believe so but it's been a really interesting ride and i had a really -- i have a really good relationship with the ambassador of the dprk. he called me 10:15 this morning so -- >> well, #bringbaeback seemed to have an affect. you've been deeply committed. have you spoken to kenneth bae before. do you plan to? >> i have never spoken with him. i have never met with him. i did speak with his sister, obviously today. i plan on flying to seattle on this coming friday to actually meet kenneth for my first time which is going to be really cool. >> well, we thank you for
joining us and experiencing this moment you're having a victory. you're there live just overlooking columbus circle in new york city. >> we hope you have a nice trip and come back and speak to us after you meet with kenneth. >> i promise. >> thanks david. so again we're waiting to see if by chance any government official, any official there in washington or anyone from the families of these two men who are just arrived back in the united states will speak with the media, microphones are set up as you can see so perhaps that will happen within the next say, 30 minutes so we'll stick with this story to see if we hear from them. so less than a month ago, these three americans were detained inside north korea with no sign they'd be freed any time soon but now, all three are home in the u.s. so again, why release them now? well, earlier, c's poppy harlow spoke with bill richardson, a
former u.s. ambassador to the un and a man who spent years negotiating with north korea to free american detainees. here's that. >> i believe it was two reasons. one, they were catching the north koreans a lot of heat at the un at human rights violations. they were going to be taken to the international criminal court. secondly, i believe they want to start a dialogue with the united states. the fact that there are very few conditions that they have asked for with the release of kenneth bae and this other young man. mr. miller. basically asking for a presidential envoy and releasing them without any apparent conditions any conditions for giving them food or aid. when i've negotiated with the north koreans, they are always asking for something very tangible in return. this time i think they are sending a message that they are ready to talk with the united states and hopefully that will
lessen tensions in northeast asia with south korea, with japan, with some of our efforts to teach some kind of stability in that region. >> but do we have to be cautious not to look at this as too big of a door opening for diplomacy between the u.s. and north korea. should it be qualified? >> well, yes. north korea, they are very unpredictable. they go hot and cold. but what is significant about this is that this is a decision that only could have been made by kim jong-un, the leader who we know very little about. a month ago he released another american without conditions. now he seems to be doing it again perhaps a condition that he asked for was send a presidential envoy, give us the status of some kind of an early dialogue even though apparently he didn't meet with kim jong-un but at the same time, it is a
positive signal, a release based on humanitarian grounds because we've demanded that in order for us to talk with north korea, they have to terminate their nuclear arsenal and engage in arms control talks and north korea in the past has basically refus refused. maybe it is an opening but you can't expect much. >> that was earlier today. we're told that this news conference may begin in just a few minutes so we'll bring you that as soon as it begins. the lrelease of these former detainees has many wondering does this signal a different relationship between the u.s. and north korea. we just heard mr. richardson discussing that. i'm joined now by the director of the korea pacific program at the university of california, san diego joining us by skype. thank you for joining us mr. haggart. we just heard mr. richardson talk about that this had to be a decision made by kim jong-un and
perhaps that this is an effort to start some sort of dialogue with the u.s. what do you make of it? >> well, i am a little bit more cynical view of what's going on here. i think we have to look at what's been happening in new york at the un. if you've been following this story, the un has undertaken an incredible report on north korean human rights activity undertaken by the commission of inquiry. the un general assembly is now convening to vote on a resolution that would refer that report to the un security counsel. a piece of that report states that the north koreans have been involved in crimes against humanity for which high level officials would actually be held personally accountable if it were referred to the international criminal court. so over the last week or so the north koreans have been involved in a very active charm offensive
to try to get that resolution dropped all together and modified. now that it's going forward, i think what they are doing is cutting losses by releasing these two prisoners who are baggage at this point. >> i see. what more can you tell us about kim jong-un? just recently, he disappeared for a while. there were a lot of questions about that but then they said that he had a medical condition and he reappeared again. we know north korea goes hot and cold. they say one thing and they do another. what more can you tell us about him? >> well, i think personally he's in control. that's the most important thing we have to understand. i don't think that there are any signs that he's vulnerable to being tom top med. he's in control of the regime. so i don't think we should read
anything into his absence that suggests that the system is in some ways unstable. we've been watching for signs that he may be more reform oriented than his father. it's possible. he tried some things in his first year after his father's death but we haven't seen much of that since. in fact the regime has announced that they are going to continue the pursuit of nuclear weapons at the same time they are going to try to develop the economy more aggressively. of course that is an unwelcomed message for the us. >> absolutely. what's your sense as far as their development of nuclear weapons of kim jong-un since he has been in power with them flexing their muscle with various launches and stuff and threatening statements to south korea? >> well, we had a process many place called the six party talks which took place between 2003 and 2008 which were aimed at trying to reach a comprehensive
settlement on the korean peninsula that would include denuclearization but also recognition of north korea. in 2008 those talks collapsed and they haven't resumed since. so i think there's a framework in place to go back to discussions. but what i've seen is little interest on the part of the north koreans in actually giving up their nuclear arsenal. they seem quite comfortable with it. as long as the chinese are willing to tolerate the north korean's persisting in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, it's very difficult for the united states to exercise much leverage over that choice. so i'd like to think that this is an opening. i think you have ambassador richardson on but i'm a little bit more skeptical than he is that this signals anything more of that sort. >> back to the two american now back in the u.s. let's talk about why people go to north korea. there's a lot of interest in
north korea. it's so secretive. it's so backwards. it's kind of a bizarre experience for those that get in 33 t there. what is north korea looking for when they allow people to come visit? does anything make sense about who they decide to take captive and detain? >> oh, there's certainly a logic to who they decide to take captive. i have to confess that i'm not entirely sympathetic with the people who have been detained. let's start with the question about why people go to north korea. people collect odd stamps in their passports and north korea is kind of an interesting and obscure place to go and brag about but there are a handful of people who have gone to north korea for purposes of -- >> stephen i will have to interrupt for just a moment. i will get back to you. here is the family and kenneth bae and the family live in washington.
>> she's the one who released the statement about how pleased she was that he was coming back home. after two years they just saw kenneth after the plane landed in washington moments ago. good evening. thank you for being here. we finally are here. my brother is home. all of our hopes and prayers for
this moment have finally come true. we are so thankful. we're thankful that go never abandoned kenneth when he was isolated alone. we're thankful that god never abandoned us even though the last years have been a journey that we wouldn't wish that on anybody. even when it seemed like there was no hope. here he is today. for that i'm really thankful. kenneth's reason for being in north korea is because he loves people. he knows that no one chooses where they are born and every human needs love. as he gave tours, he was able to connect people from the outside world to the people and beauty of north korea. to us, north korea seems like a strange place. don't allow that to make that a reason to forget the people of that country. even tonight as we're reunited
he said to me, i am so happy to be here but my heartaches for the people of north korea. as we celebrate tonight as we're together, we know that they there are many people in north korea who are like kenneth and they remain apart from their families tonight. please do not forget them. we will not. please pray for them and advocate for those who continue to suffer in north korea and elsewhere. that being said, we are thankful for the mercy of leaders in north korea who relented and allowed the return of kenneth bae and matthew todd miller. it's just hard to believe this day is finally here. for two years it's been just unbelievable agony and unspeakable. there are many who have just made allowed this day to happen. we're thankful for president obama and secretary kerry for
not forgetting kenneth. they pledged their commitment to bring kenneth home and here he is, home with us. we also want to thank the director of national intelligence james clapper who negotiated kenneth and matthew's release. thank you for that. thank you for leading the envoy. we also have to thank the swedish embassy for their tireless efforts. they were the only source of human contact that was warm and loving and just bringing a slice of home to kenneth when he was all alone locked up for two years in a north korean labor camp. there are many others who have stood with us and advocated for us. i have to give a special shout out to many at the state department who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, really to advocate for us. there were many disappointments along the way. canceled envoys but here we are. for that, i can't thank them
enough for their advocacy. we have to also thank our washington state delegation for sure. congressman rick larson, senator murphy and also congressman charles rangal who have been vocal advocates during this journey and countless others who have been instrumental in our advocacy efforts such as jesse jackson and david sugarman. countless others who supported us and prayed for us of the wrote letters to kenneth and us. we cannot thank you enough. we could not be here today without you. thank you. we're just so happy to have him home. >> i just want to say thank you all for supporting me and standing by me during this time.
it's been just amazing blessing to see so many people being involved, getting me released the last two years. not to mention -- not only mentioning for the thousands of people who have been praying for me as well. i just want to say thank you all for supporting me and lifting me up and not forgetting me. at the same time not forgetting the people of north korea and thank you for supporting my family as well during this tremendous difficult time for my family. there's so many people who have been supporting them to stand strong during this time. i also want to thank president obama and all of the people in the state departments that worked tirelessly hard to get me released as well. also, i'd like to thank the
north korean government allow me to go home and be reunited with my family and people. it's been an amazing two years. i learned a lot and grew a lot. lost a lot of weight. i am standing strong because of you. thank you for being there in such time as this. so i just want to say tonight that thank you for all of your support and prayer and your love. that it's really been encouraging for me and for others who are in the same shoes in there an elsewhere. thank you. god bless you. >> welcome home. >> how are you feeling? >> how's your health? >> i am recovering at this time. >> all right. we finally hear from kenneth bae. two years being held by north
korea and you could hear the joy of his sister, terry chung and all of the people she lifted who worked on his release and kenneth is talking briefly about his health. he was said to be in poor health in north korea. ana cabrera back with this. you're there in the room where he spoke. we know that as you said, he spent eight hours in a field and was kept in isolation. it will be interesting to see what more he has to say about his ordeal and what more we learn about his health. >> reporter: it was a happy moment there. he had a big smile on his face as he, of course, stepped in front of that microphone to say a lot of thanks. thank the people in this room. the media for supporting him. the community here in washington state. his home state for standing by him. he went onto even thank the north korean government for allowing him to leave. of course he thanked the u.s. state department.
all of the many officials from the u.s. who had worked so tirelessly to secure his release. one thing that he said that i thought was really poignant was that he said don't forget the people of north korea. that was something his sister also talked about. the woman who you saw speaking first, terry chung. she mentioned how much kenneth bae really did care about the people of north korea. he was there conducting tours in north korea. he had a company. he wanted to connect the outside world to north korea and vice versa. that was really his calling. he's a devout christian and he felt compelled to reach out to the people of north korea during a time when, of course, the u.s. and many of the other countries around the world really have not had warm relation as you all know. but he also said during his time in captivity, he learned a lot. he said he grew a lot as a person. he mentioned that he lost a lot of weight and there was a little bit of a chuckle in the room. he said i'm standing strong because of you. of course that you is a
collective you so all of the people who have been praying for him and supporting hill over the past two years. natalie. >> it's nice to hear from him after we've been talking about him for so long. especially here on cnn. so matthew todd miller, we're told will not be coming to the microphone. there won't be any statement from his family. we know a lot about kenneth bae because his ordeal has been going on for so long. what do we know about matthew miller and why he was there and his situation? >> we don't know a whole lot. there's definitely a lot more mystery surrounding why he wasn't to north korea. we've been told that when he arrived in north korea he tore up his visa and was seeking asylum in north korea. we don't know why that was the case. we know he went before a court there and he was convicted of hostile acts against the government of north korea. i can tell you that the ap and that the associated press who
listened in to his trial within the last couple of months, they reported that the government had alleged that he had wanted to come to north korea and to actually break the law so that he would be thrown into prison in order to be a witness to the human rights concerns in that country. so that's the story about matthew todd miller but again, the truth is still very murky in all of that. his family has been very quiet throughout this time unlike the family of kenneth bae who has been very outspoken in trying to get his release. of course every family handles situations differently. so matthew todd miller's family has chosen to be a little bit more private as we've also seen here todd ay in that they want keep this within the family affairs. obviously he did ask for his release when will riply went and had a chance to speak with him. i'm sure he and his family are extremely grateful for this opportunity to be back in the u.s. and to reunite.
>> thank you, ana cabrera who's there for us. they arrived just a little over 45 minutes ago. right on schedule. we were told they would land at midnight. the plane taxied in a few minutes before midnight when we started our live coverage when we first saw kenneth bae stepping off that plane and then matthew miller. hope pli in tfully in the days will learn more about their oe de ordeal, we will learn more from them. we want to hear from stephen hrk aggart. he's the director of the korean pacific program at the university of san diego. we know kenneth bae went there to reach out to north koreans. he felt very compelled to support them and be there for them. you were about to talk with us about what the north korean government considers hostile
acts. who they decide to detain. who they decide to imprison. tell us more about that. >> i think one of the common threads of several of the people who have been detained. actually, miller is an exception to this rule is that they seem to have been engaged in prothlitizing activities. the language talked about plots to overthrow the state and things like that. as you see from his sincere conviction and interest in the human rights plight of the north koreans, it is likely he was votated in part by that kind of mission. there are a number of christians who live in china would have crossed the border accearrder surreptitiously trying to bring bibles to north korea. there's a underground movement of christianity that's very small. the government is concerned about it. the risk that's posed by kenneth
bae as a korean american and able to speak korean, he's able to make those connections directly in a way that a jeffrey foul or matthew todd miller can't. so i think that bae was seen by the north koreans as more dangerous than the nonkorean speakers that have been detained in the past. >> uh-huh. and he had to work in a field. he was in isolation. he just said he lost weight. we certainly know there is a food shortage in north korea. is that pretty typical of north korea's treatment of people they detain and imprison from other countries? >> actually, i have to say that despite the suffering that kenneth bae underwent of this detention and the tremendous uncertainty, the trumped up charges and so forth, he was actually detained in a facility which to my understanding only held one prisoner, him. so it was likely that from the start, the north koreans were at
some point going to try to trade kenneth bae for something such as a presidential visit. that was relayed by jeffrey foul in his return or perhaps some other concession. u.s. policy has been that we wouldn't negotiate on those grounds. the director of national intelligence said there was no quid pro quos for this release. i take that at face value. i think the conditions of his internment were very much more favorable and less harsh than those of corresponding north koreans that have been crossing the border and coming back into the country. north korea runs a network of not just a large prison camps for political prisoners but also a network of labor camps that have incarcerated people who are accused of crossing the border and having any kind of contact with christian groups or south koreans in china. so as bad as his time was there,
north koreans that are in the normal penal system in north korea fair much worse. >> certainly. we've heard about their stories and the people that get out talk about what they had to endure. we really appreciate you adding your expertise to our breaking news coverage. thanks so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> thank you. i want to turn it back now to a man we've just spoke live with. he's in new york city. that is david sugarman who launched the bring bae back campaign. we just saw kenneth bae. i believe you got a shout out from his sister. >> isn't that amazing? it is. >> so what did you think about seeing the family together with kenneth bae? how does it make you feel now that you've seen him? >> i mean it's amazing. it's just -- it's amazing. as terry, his sister was running down the line and thanking all of these people, these are all the people that i've watched be
involved in this since i got involved in february. to see kenneth there next to his sister and -- i know i speak to terry and know her intimately. it's amazing. it's really a cool moment. it's a really good piece of history that happened today. >> you had a part in it and you're a sports agent. whoever knows where their career or life will take them? >> right. you never know. congress may be next for me but you never know. >> good luck with that. >> thank you. thank you. >> well, we heard in his voice how his sincerity over wanting to go to north korea and reach out to the people there and try to connect with them what have you learned about the basketball players that went. others who have gone since you've been involved in this about the connections and the feelings that people have for the north koreans? >> i mean look.
i know that -- i can only give you the examples that i know of the kenny anderson went, he played basketball there. he didn't recognize really what was going on behind the scenes in the dprk when he did his due diligence apologized to america for actually being there. pros michelle, former member of the fujies he went there and did his ice bucket challenge a month ago and he told me that he thought the country, not the politics but the country is beautiful and clean and so on and so forth. and my experience with the ambassador as i mentioned earlier and the counselor has been -- it's been great. you know? again, i've never been to north korea. i wanted to go and i was advised by the state department based on my campaign it would be better if i stayed in new york. >> yeah. #stay in new york. >> so -- just to wrap up with
you, this experience like the #bringbaeback. what has it said to you about what typical people that joined your campaign are or supported you think of north korea or how much they pay attention to this strange secretive country. >> well, that's a great question. i will answer it in this two parts. one, i've met some really great people from around the world that have just tried to help bring bae back which we obviously all did but secondly, it shows -- i'm a regular sports agent. i'm just a regular guy from new york and put my mind on -- it do something to make a difference. to be the change that you wish to see in the world which is a ghandi quote. we did it. i really have to thank your network and this isn't a plug for you all but, you know if it wasn't for cnn allowing me to speak about this and the campaign, i don't think i would
have gotten the attention from the ambassador and the dprk so he thank you you and the network so much for having me. >> well, we just heard his sister. thank you david. we heard terry chung say all of the names of the people who were instrumental. there were a lot of people on this team bring bae back. this is a nice moment for you. i know you're flying to washington to see family and see him. we wish you well. >> thank you agains for joining our coverage. >> thank you. >> let's go now to our he correspondent paula based in soule south korea. she covers the north korean situation dilemma, et cetera, quite often. she joins us now. your thoughts as we heard from kenneth bae and what he had to say about his time in north korea and in being back. >> reporter: well, natalie, i think one of the interesting things i heard was the fact that he thanked the government. dprk so the government of north korea saying thank you to them for releasing him.
he also said that he wanted people to remember those that are still in north korea, the north korean people. this is something that he told his sister, terry chung. she relayed it to the waiting media saying that he was free but his -- he did actually say to her that his heart was still with the north korean people. this is something that we've heard all along. this is something his mother told him a year ago the fact that he's been to north korea more than 18 times she believed. he was a tour guide operator. he loved the country she says. he loved the people. certainly that he had nothing whatsoever against the country itself so i hthink it's very interesting within this very short press conference we heard interest kenneth bae that he wanted to mention the people once again. he did thank the government. and there was no -- nothing detrimental said against the country which really held him in detention for more than two years. natalie. >> yes. and we didn't hear from matthew
miller so his story still a little bit fuzzy. we just don't know the details of his situation. >> reporter: well, all we know is what north korean state media has told us so it's very difficult until we actually hear the other side of the story to know whether or not that is the accurate story. but what kcna has stoled told u when he walked into the country, i went into customs ripped up his visa and claimed asylum. during the trial, he was accused of effectively wanting to be found guilty and wanting to be sent to a prison camp so that he could then learn what it's like inside the prison camp the human rights situation in the country and come out and give a first hand account of this. at one point they said he was trying to be an edward snowden. certainly this is what the north koreans are saying with the cnn interview that was done very recently under north korea. he didn't elaborate on that.
he simply said i've mentioned that in preevious interviews. i'm not here to talk about that. he hasn't said specifically what he he has done. it is a mysterious case. the family has wanted to take a more private stance than the bae family. we've certainly seen very public statements from kenneth bae's family really lobbying for his release especially when he was taken out of the labor camp and put into a hospital because of some quite serious health problems. we're seeing two very different approaches from the family's point point of view. of course he's been there a lot longer. >> yes. he has. we're just learning more from the white house about how this all involved paula. apparently president obama approved this mission last week. they informed japan, south korea and china of it. some members of congress were told about it.
did confirm that clapper did not meet with kim jong-un and you guessed that he probably would not but there was no other issue on the table that he was an envoy for the president of the united states. he had a letter from the president. this was the time. interesting that we know when the director of national intelligence, james clapper who got the release, when he arrived there, he had no dparguarantee would bring these americans home. we just saw them land an hour ago. what might be the reaction from soule there, south korea as they are very much engaged in anything that has to do with north korea certainly in relation to the united states? >> reporter: well, there was a statement from the foreign ministry here overnight so many hours ago now. they said that they welcomed this decision. they also wanted to highlight the fact that there's a south korean who is currently being held in north korea. he's a missionary. a baptist missionary.
he's been charged and found guilty of hostile acts against the regime. he's been sentenced to life of hard labor. so a far heftier sentence than we saw for any of the american citizens he was accused of spying and trying to bring down the government. at this point we're hearing very little about him. we're certainly not hearing the same level of news that we did for kenneth bae for example. natal natalie. >> thanks so much. thank you all for sticking with us for this hour of special coverage. again, two americans are back home after being held in north korea and we will probably be learning more about their ordeal. kenneth bae stepping off the plane there just about an hour ago followed by matthew miller who had been detained since april. thank you for watching. cnn.
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