Follow us:

Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

December 20, 2013 at 6:05 AM

Dennis Rodman, please don’t forget Kenneth Bae

Dennis Rodman’s third trip to Pyongyang this year should be more than just another publicity stunt. The fact remains: no other American has had this level or frequency of access to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Once again, we have to hope that in between coaching North Korean basketball players for Kim’s Jan. 8 birthday invitational, Rodman will bend the supreme leader’s ear and mention Kenneth Bae’s name.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman walks with Vice Minister of North Korea's Sports Ministry, Son Kwang Ho, as Rodman arrives at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman walks with Vice Minister of North Korea’s Sports Ministry, Son Kwang Ho, as Rodman arrives at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

Make this “sports diplomacy” outing mean something real.

According to a CBS News report, Rodman was quoted in Beijing on Thursday saying, “I know (Kim) is waiting for me to come back. So hopefully we will have some conversation about some things that’s going to help the world.”

Help the world? How about starting with one guy: Kenneth Bae. If Rodman has a chance to ask for Bae’s humanitarian release, he should take it.

The former Washington resident and tour operator has been imprisoned for more than one year— longer than any other American in recent memory. The details of his alleged crimes have never been fully released by the secretive regime, other than to accuse Bae of “hostile acts” and trying to topple the government. The regime sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. He was hospitalized over the summer.

Bae’s family, based in Edmonds and Lynnwood, are painfully aware of Rodman’s initial tweet asking Kim to “do him a solid” and to release Bae, followed by his angry assertions that helping the imprisoned American isn’t his job.

With no other avenues before them, Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, appeared on CNN Thursday to ask Rodman to reconsider his role:

“Mr. Rodman, if you’re watching, please do think about this American citizen — a father, a husband, a son, and a brother — who has been imprisoned for 13 months in the DPRK. And while you’re there, to think about him and his family waiting for him to come home for Christmas, and do everything you can to bring him home.”

I don’t know if the man known as Worm during his NBA playing days is listening, but we can’t let Rodman wiggle his way out of Pyongyang again without being reminded that he could be leaving a fellow American behind.

Rodman must do all he can to assist the Bae family. As bizarre as this ongoing storyline has become, he’s likely the only one who can help.

(Here’s a link to the board’s latest editorial on Bae’s imprisonment following North Korea’s decision to release another American detainee named Merrill Newman.)

Watch Chung’s interview below:

[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/bestoftv/2013/12/19/exp-carol-costello-terri-chung.cnn” width=”630″ height=”470″]

 

Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, diplomacy, kenneth bae

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►