Skip to main content

Dennis Rodman asks Kim Jong Un to let U.S. citizen go

By Holly Yan and Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 5:35 AM EDT, Wed May 8, 2013
Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, January 8. In his latest round of "<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/06/world/asia/north-korea-dennis-rodman/index.html'>basketball diplomacy</a>," Rodman made his fourth visit to North Korea, one of the world's most totalitarian states, to participate in a basketball game between North Korea and a team of former NBA players. Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, January 8. In his latest round of "basketball diplomacy," Rodman made his fourth visit to North Korea, one of the world's most totalitarian states, to participate in a basketball game between North Korea and a team of former NBA players.
HIDE CAPTION
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dennis Rodman: "Do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose"
  • Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for unspecified "hostile acts"
  • His sister says Bae owns a tour company and is not a spy
  • Rodman has called North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un a "friend for life"

(CNN) -- If any American has the power of persuasion over North Korea's defiant young ruler, it might be eccentric ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman.

So when Rodman digitally called for Kim Jong Un to release U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, he may have a shot at a response.

"I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him "Kim", to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose," Rodman tweeted.

Dennis Rodman is North Korean leader's 'friend for life'

Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor last month after he was convicted of unspecified "hostile acts" against North Korea. The country's state-run Korean Central News Agency said the Korean-American was arrested November 3 after arriving as a tourist in Rason City, a northeastern port near the Chinese border.

Sister baffled by North Korea punishment
Jeffrey Edward Fowle, one of three Americans detained in North Korea, was released and is now on his way home, a State Department official told CNN on Tuesday, October 21. Fowle was accused of leaving a Bible in a restaurant. North Korea announced Fowle's detention in June, saying he had violated the law by acting "contrary to the purpose of tourism." Fowle told CNN: "I've admitted my guilt to the government and signed a statement to that effect and requested forgiveness from the people and the government of the DPRK." Jeffrey Edward Fowle, one of three Americans detained in North Korea, was released and is now on his way home, a State Department official told CNN on Tuesday, October 21. Fowle was accused of leaving a Bible in a restaurant. North Korea announced Fowle's detention in June, saying he had violated the law by acting "contrary to the purpose of tourism." Fowle told CNN: "I've admitted my guilt to the government and signed a statement to that effect and requested forgiveness from the people and the government of the DPRK."
Americans detained abroad
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Americans detained abroad Photos: Americans detained abroad
Rodman reveals North Korea secrets
Rodman: I'm going back to North Korea

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, told CNN's Anderson Cooper last week that her brother is not a spy.

"He has never had any evil intentions against North Korea, or any other country for that matter," Chung said.

She said her brother owns a tour company and was in North Korea for work.

"He didn't have any problems going there last time, last year five times, so he didn't have any reason to suspect that there would be any trouble this time around," she said.

U.S. officials have struggled to establish how exactly Bae fell afoul of North Korean authorities. The North Korean statement on his conviction provided no details of the allegations against him.

"This was somebody who was a tour operator, who has been there in the past and has a visa to go to the North," a senior U.S. official told CNN on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue.

But NK News, a U.S.-based website that focuses on North Korea, suggests Bae has served as a missionary trying to convert North Koreans.

"I knew that Jesus wanted me to be a 'channel' to the North," Bae told a Korean congregation at a St. Louis church in 2011, NK News reported. "This year, I'm working at taking several short term missionary teams into North Korea."

Bae's sentencing came after weeks of intense rhetoric from North Korea, which conducted its third nuclear test in February and launched a satellite into orbit atop a long-range rocket in December.

Washington responded by deploying additional missile interceptors on the West Coast, dispatching a missile defense system to the Pacific territory of Guam and bolstering annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises with overflights by nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers.

Rodman, the heavily pierced NBA Hall of Famer, made headlines when he befriended North Korea's supreme leader during a visit in February.

"You have a friend for life," Rodman told Kim after the two men sat next to each other watching an unusual basketball exhibition in Pyongyang.

But Rodman said he is not an official diplomat between the United States and North Korea.

"I'm not a politician," he tweeted. "Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:25 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
North Korea has released photos that claim to show leader Kim Jong Un, whose absence for over a month has raised speculation.
updated 1:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
Despite tense relations, China benefits from Kim Jong Un's rule in North Korea. David McKenzie explains.
updated 4:51 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
North Korea has "the world's most advantageous human rights system," the country declares.
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
updated 6:41 AM EDT, Tue May 28, 2013
Beijing-based tour company posts exclusive photos and video from inspection visit.
updated 9:37 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley makes a rare live report from reclusive North Korea.
updated 4:52 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
The crowd cheers as the stars make their way to the ring for first pro-wrestling bout North Korea has seen in almost 20 years.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed March 27, 2013
A German photographer returns from the closed country with unlikely pictures of everyday residents.
updated 8:16 AM EST, Mon December 2, 2013
Visiting the DPRK is easy these days, so long as you don't forget to play by their rules.
updated 10:45 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley is given a rare look inside North Korea and tours Kim Jong Un's pet project, a waterpark.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
North Korea rejected an invitation to the Pope's Mass in Seoul. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
As diplomats discuss a string of unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea, the families of those abducted anxiously wait.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
New signs show Russia and North Korea are developing a closer relationship.
updated 8:12 PM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea and shares his inside look at the most isolated country in the world.
updated 9:25 PM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Many North Koreans listen to illegal broadcasts on homemade radios, some are convinced to defect.
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Jang Jin-Sung, a North Korean defector and former regime insider, speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
ADVERTISEMENT