Jimmy Carter Is Planning Another North Korean Rescue Mission

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PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 26:  In this handout image providedby The Elders, Council of Elders members (L - 3rd L) former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Ireland Mary Robinson and and Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (R) stand with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, Ri Yong Ho and an interpreter close to the statue of Kim IL-Sung on April 26, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Elders visit was aimed to help ease tensions between North and South Korea and address humanitarian issues.  (Photo by Richard Lewis/The Elders via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Martti Ahtisaari;Gro Brundtland;Mary Robinson;Ri Yong Ho;Jimmy Carter;
President Carter (right) and Kim IL-Sung (in bronze) during his last trip to North Korea. Photo: Handout

When North Korea sentenced U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae to fifteen years hard labor for unspecified "hostile acts" in May, there was speculation that it might just be a ploy to score another visit from an American president. U.S. citizens faced with similar sentences were freed in 2009 following a visit from Bill Clinton, and in 2010 after an appearance by Jimmy Carter. North Korea's awful scheme appears to be working, as South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Monday that Carter has contacted the North to arrange a trip. "The issue of Kenneth Bae who has been held in the North for nine months is becoming a burden for the United States," a source in Washington tells Yonhap. "Even if Carter's visit materializes, it will be focused on the issue of Kenneth's Bae's release more than anything else." Kim Jong-un can try to tempt Carter with a slideshow of that time he met Dennis Rodman or a routine kindergarten inspection, but the former president is there for business, not to enjoy North Korea's many thrilling attractions.