Kenneth Bae, 45, has been held for more than a year by the North which convicted him of trying to overthrow the state and sentenced him to 15 years hard labour. (Agencies)
Bae, a Korean American, was paraded in front of a group of foreign and local reporters on Monday and asked Washington to help him get home, the North's state news agency and foreign media based in Pyongyang reported.
"We hope this decision by DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) authorities to allow Kenneth Bae to meet with reporters signals their willingness to release him," a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Monday.
"We have offered to send Ambassador King to Pyongyang to secure Mr. Bae's release. We have asked the North Koreans this, and await their early response," the official added.
An attempt by U.S. North Korean rights envoy Robert King to secure Bae's release last August was rejected by Pyongyang.
It was not immediately clear why the North Korean authorities had allowed the event at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital, Bae's second media appearance since his arrest in 2012 when he led a tour group into the country.
North Korea's state KCNA news agency reported Bae himself had asked to hold the press conference.
Bae's son Jonathan urged Washington to respond to the plea.
His father's words "obviously mean that Washington has not done enough", Bae told Reuters by phone. "We need to send someone over and bring him home. That's what it's going to take. He needs to come home," he said.
Kenneth Bae, 45, has been held for more than a year by the North which convicted him of trying to overthrow the state and sentenced him to 15 years hard labour.