TODAY   |  November 22, 2013

Officials plead for North Korea to release veteran

Officials from the United States and China are trying to get North Korea to release an elderly veteran who was detained when he tried to leave the country, as well as another American sentenced to hard labor for three months. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>> got new developments you're following.

>> yeah, the american has been detained there and there are high stakes negotiations underway in north korea as officials are trying to get an 85-year-old korean war veteran released from custody. andrea mitchell is in washington with the latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, natalie. the u.s. is hoping that china can help win the release of an elderly u.s. korean war veteran that was sightseeing in north korea and that tour turned into a nightmare. an 85-year-old korean war veteran being held for four weeks on the same peninsula where he fought six decades ago. the retired teacher dreamed about visiting north korea to took a 9 day tour to the kingdom but as he and his friend prepared to leave the country, they seized him alarming frenlds at his retirement home .

>> they're all worried.

>> reporter: john kerry telling nbc news.

>> this is obviously one of those moments where north korea needs to figure out where it's he heading. they have other people too. so these are all very, very disturbing choices.

>> reporter: one of those men is kenneth bay. held for more than a year and forced to serve hard labor for three months. recently suffering from diabetes complications. his sister wants the u.s. to do more.

>> we need their help to bring him home.

>> reporter: all of it signaling a north korean regime.

>> there's a trend of taking more and more aggressive actions against innocent americans.

>> reporter: and this is a growing worry for an administration that clearly does not need another foreign policy crisis. natalie.

>> andrea mitchell in washington. thank you.