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September 5, 2013 at 7:39 AM

Dennis Rodman must ask North Korea about Kenneth Bae

Dennis Rodman landed in North Korea Tuesday and is reportedly backpedaling on his earlier promises to personally ask his friend, Kim Jong Un, to free American prisoner and former Lynnwood resident Kenneth Bae.

In this image from video, former NBA star Dennis Rodman, left, is greeted by Son Kwang Ho, vice-chairman of North Korea's Olympic Committee, at Pyongyang airport, North Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Rodman landed Tuesday in North Korea and said he plans to hang out with authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, have a good time and maybe bridge some cultural gaps — but not be a diplomat. (AP Photo/AP Video)

In this image from video, former NBA star Dennis Rodman, left, is greeted by Son Kwang Ho, vice-chairman of North Korea’s Olympic Committee, at Pyongyang airport, North Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. (Photo by AP)

Pay no attention to Rodman’s public statements so far. Judge his actions after he returns. Who can blame him for saying he’s not in North Korea to save Bae? Look at what happened to the U.S. envoy Robert King, who explicitly stated he was visiting Pyongyang to secure Bae’s release. The regime told him not to come.

Rodman was smart to say he was just entering North Korea to have some fun with Kim. They let him in, right?

Terri Chung holds a letter sent from her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Terri Chung holds a letter sent from her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (Photo by Ted S. Warren / AP)

For the sake of Bae’s family and concerns over his declining health, I still view Rodman’s visit as the best chance right now to get Kenneth Bae home to his family.

I can only hope Rodman is smart enough to know he needs to work the back channels. Shower Kim Jong Un with old memories of playing basketball with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Make the young ruler laugh. Find some common ground with him. Then maybe slide in that question about Bae’s fate. Ask about his health. Tell Kim that Bae has a family — parents, sister, wife and three kids — who need him home.

Professional basketball’s most flamboyant personality has an obligation to help a fellow American in need. He’s been building up to this moment for months, anyway, even saying he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. I know the D.P.R.K. ain’t the NBA, but he’s in a position to do some serious good.

Just do it, Dennis. Don’t forget Kenneth Bae. You’re no statesman, but we know you have it in you to ask a friend for a favor.

Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae, north korea


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