The U.S. government does not believe Kenneth Bae is being mistreated. Bae, of Lynnwood, has traveled to North Korea several times before. But there are concerns he may have been involved in missionary work, which may have led to his arrest.
According to South Korean newspapers, Bae, a Korean-American tour operator, entered North Korea with five other tourists. One of the tour members was allegedly carrying a computer hard disk "that apparently contained sensitive information."
The State Department is saying very little about the case. The department released the following statement: "We're obviously aware of these reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in North Korea. We obviously have no higher priority than the welfare of our citizens."
The Swedish government, which acts as the protecting power for the U.S. in North Korea, is working to get him released.
State Rep. Cindy Ryu was born in South Korea, and has family in North Korea.
"It is a pretty dire situation as far as human rights go," she said.
In Bae's case, Ryu says staying quiet may be the best thing for his safe return
"Typically they have to be quiet, if nothing else to save face for both American and Korean politicians," Ryu said.
Bae's family declined to comment.