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Can Dennis Rodman Help Free Kenneth Bae?

( [email protected] ) Sep 06, 2013 03:40 PM EDT
North Korea has rescinded U.S. envoy Robert King's invitation to visit Pyongyang - and basketball superstar and playboy Dennis Rodman recently landed in North Korea, according to Christianity Today.
Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea. Kyodo/Reuters

North Korea has rescinded U.S. envoy Robert King's invitation to visit Pyongyang - and basketball superstar and playboy Dennis Rodman recently landed in North Korea, according to Christianity Today.

North Korean officials withdrew their offer for King, citing U.S. military drills on the peninsula. King was supposed to arrive in Pyongyang earlier this week to negotiate amnesty for Kenneth Bae. Bae, an imprisoned U.S. Christian who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, supposedly for plots he had made against the government.

Yet, Rodman has said he wouldn't ask for the imprisoned Kennth Bae's release, reports Christianity Today. Most recently, Rodman has been on his visit with his friend, Kim Jong-Un, North Korea's "supreme leader."

Sometimes, Rodman would not say if he would be seeking Bae's release.

"I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that," Rodman said, as reported by ABCNews.com. "I have not been promised anything. I am just going there as a friendly gesture."

Elsewhere, Rodman added he "is not there to be a diplomat."

"I'm not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae," he told Reuters.
I'm just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour."

In a previous interview, Rodman told reporters he would try to negotiate Bae's release, saying he would be the "most powerful guy in the world" if he succeeded. But later, Rodman lowered his expectations and said his time with the North Korean leader would be focused only on basketball, reports Christianity Today.

Jonathan Bae, Kenneth's son, conceded that it was unlikely Rodman would leave Pyongyang with his father in tow, but after failed attempts through official channels it was the family's last best hope, reports ABCNews.com.

"It is not likely Rodman will be able to bring my father home, but miracles happen. If anyone can bring him back, it's someone who calls Kim Jung-Un a friend," Jonathan told ABCNews.com.

Jonathan said he had been in touch with Rodman's representatives, but had not been promised anything.

The Gospel Herald previously reported Bae is imprisoned for "committing hostile actions" against North Korea. His sister, Terri Chung, recently said in an interview that the 45-year-old diabetic Kenneth is going blind. She also said he is being forced to work in the fields for eight hours each day six days a week. She doesn't know how long he will last.

Kenneth, who struggles with diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and a back problem, said in a video shared by CNN:

"I was hoping that my problem would be worked out by end of June. So my hope is that North Korea will forgive, and the U.S. will try harder to get me out speedily. I'm asking for their help."

Rodman "is one of the greatest rebounders ever to play professional basketball," according to dennisrodman.com. Sports Illustrated once called Rodman "a sort of basketball genius." A dedicated analyst of the game and a tenacious defender, Rodman led the National Basketball Association (NBA) in rebounding for four consecutive years and helped lead his teams to five NBA championships.