U.S. President Barack Obama urged North Korea on Thursday to release a U.S. missionary who has been detained in the country since November 2012 and pledged his utmost effort to make that happen.
"His family wants him home," Obama told a gathering in Washington of religious leaders, referring to the Korean-American man, Kenneth Bae.
Obama said, "The United States will continue to do everything in our power to secure his release because Kenneth Bae deserves to be free."
Bae was detained while leading a group on a tour of North Korea's northeastern region of Rason and later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what Pyongyang says was an attempt to topple its regime.
Bae, who is also known as Pae Jun Ho, called for help to return home at a press conference in Pyongyang last month.