Dennis Rodman claims to be lifelong buddies with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Really?
Well, perhaps now is the time for the NBA has-been to practice some real basketball diplomacy and call up his so-called friend for a favor: Grant American detainee Kenneth Bae amnesty and release him to his family.The Lynnwood man has languished in prison for six months on questionable charges and was sentenced this week to 15 years of hard labor for “hostiles acts” against North Korea.
The Seattle Times published an editorial Friday calling on Chinese officials to help influence their neighbors, in the name of regional stability.
Back to Rodman. I really hate to connect an international crisis to buffoonish behavior, but Bae is being used as a political pawn by a desperate despot who happened to gallivant around the country with Rodman in March. Perhaps now is the retired player’s chance to use his notoriety for something other than to over-inflate his ego.
Last month, Rodman revealed his plans to return to Pyongyang Aug. 1 to “just hang and have some fun” with Kim.
I really can’t tell if he’s kidding. The whole thing is just bizarre. Just a few days ago — between tweets promoting his pool party in Las Vegas and an Instagram photo of his younger self during the Chicago Bulls days — Rodman posted this message to his Twitter account:
Partying with @therealdodge. Gonna miss you bro! Come with me next time I’m in N Korea!
— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) April 28, 2013
How about another tweet showing some sensitivity to Kenneth Bae’s plight?
This Thursday news report from The New York Times indicates the Obama Administration is not yet ready to send another high-profile politician to respond to the North Korea’s latest provocation. Note: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt got as close as delivering a letter from Bae’s son to a state official during their private trip to the country last January.
Bae’s family has not officially spoken to the media, but his friends have started a Facebook page in his honor.
Bringing up Rodman in this context might be a stretch, but who else is friendly with King Jong Un these days? “He just wants to be loved. He just wants to sit down and talk. That’s all,” Rodman said of the dictator upon his return from that first trip.
Whether a decision on a release comes down to Dennis Rodman’s shenanigans, pressure from the Chinese, or some other factor — we know something must be done. Kenneth Bae should not be left in a North Korean prison.