WASHINGTON -- One analyst says today's sentencing of an American man in North Korea to 15 years of hard labor is a "gambit" aimed at forcing "a direct dialogue with the United States."
Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security is reacting to the news that Kenneth Bae of Washington state has been sentenced for what the North called "hostile acts" against the government there.
Bae is described by friends as a tour operator and a devout Christian.
He's at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009.
And in each of the other cases, the Americans were eventually deported or released without serving out their terms.
In some cases, the release came after visits to the North by prominent Americans -- including former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
The head of a South Korean think-tank says that's what the North is hoping will happen this time.
He says a visit by a prominent American will boost the leadership profile of Kim Jong Un.