The sister of detained American missionary Kenneth Bae said she had a mixed reaction watching her brother talk to news media at a hospital in North Korea, where he has been held for more than a year.
Terri Chung said that she was glad he appeared to be in good health but saddened to see him wearing an inmate's uniform.
She says the family is concerned for his health and could "see that he was distressed".
Ms Chung called on the US government to step up its efforts to secure his release and pleaded for mercy from North Korea.
Mr Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group and accused of crimes against the state before being sentenced to 15 years of hard labour.
He was moved to a hospital last summer.
Mr Bae, who is from Washington state, apologised in the news conference, and said he committed anti-government acts.
Family friend Derek Sciba in Seattle said it was heartbreaking to see him in a p rison uniform but encouraging to see and hear him.
He noted that another American who was held in North Korea, Merrill Newman, made a similar statement before he was freed.
But Mr Sciba said he has no idea whether yesterday's news conference may be part of some process.