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Kenneth Bae, U.S. Missionary Imprisoned in North Korea: Family 'Appalled' by Dennis Rodman's 'Outrageous' Accusations

( [email protected] ) Jan 08, 2014 05:19 AM EST
Family of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae expressed outrage at Dennis Rodman's suggestion that the Korean-American Christian was at fault for getting imprisoned in North Korea since Nov. 2012 and sentenced to 15 years in labor camp.
Dennis Rodman speaks at a news conference in New York about his recent trip to North Korea. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Family of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae expressed outrage at Dennis Rodman's suggestion that the Korean-American Christian was at fault for getting imprisoned in North Korea since Nov. 2012 and sentenced to 15 years in labor camp.

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, told CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 that Rodman's comments were shocking and outrageous. But she said she was upset because Rodman didn't use his relationship with Kim to help gain her brother's release from the hospital.

"He was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth," she said. "He refused to do so. But then instead he has chosen to hurl these outrageous accusations against Kenneth. He clearly doesn't know anything about Kenneth, about his case. And so we were appalled by that."

She said her brother was in North Korea legally working as a tour operator. She hoped one of the former basketball players would take a chance to ask for amnesty for him.

"This isn't some game. This is about a person's life," she said.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday with Chris Cuomo of CNN, Rodman reacted angrily when pressed if he could ask Kim about Bae, convicted last spring by North Korea of "hostile acts" intended to topple the government. Bae was sentenced to 15 years in labor camp.

"Do you understand what he did in this country?" Rodman asked Cuomo, suggesting that the Korean-American Christian was at fault. "No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? ... I would love to speak on this."

"You know, you've got 10 guys here, 10 guys here, that have left their families, they've left their damn families, to help this country in a sports venture. That's 10 guys, all these guys here, do anyone understand that?"

"We do," said Cuomo. "And we appreciate that and we wish them well with cultural exchange."

Rodman did not take well of Cuomo's response, and emphasized that "these guys," the 10 former NBA players, dared to do one thing - "they came here."

n Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Rodman is on a private trip, and the U.S. government's views on North Korea and its failure to meet its obligation have not changed and views on Bae have not changed.

"We have not been contacted by Mr. Rodman," said Carney. "The U.S. government does not vet U.S. citizen's private travel to North Korea."

The trip is Rodman's fourth to the isolated nation, part of a project he has described as "basketball diplomacy."

But the U.S. State Department has said that attention should be focused on sharpening the choices that regime faces between further isolation and economic depravation from using its resources to fund its nuclear ambitions or to come in line with its international obligations and easy that.

The NBA distanced itself Tuesday from Rodman.

"The NBA is not involved with Mr. Rodman's North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement released by the league.

"Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them."