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Topic: Dennis Rodman

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January 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Forget Dennis Rodman’s tearful apology, shift attention to Kenneth Bae

A defiant and visibly emotional Dennis Rodman faced a throng of reporters after landing in Beijing over the weekend.

Watch the CNN video below:

[do action="custom_iframe" url="http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/01/13/penhaul-china-rodmans-tearful-return.cnn" width="630" height="380" scrolling=""/]

Regardless of his tearful non-apology apology, the former NBA player deserves to stay atop the “loser of the week” list a while longer. That’s what he gets for throwing fellow American Kenneth Bae under the bus. In a ridiculous CNN interview last week, Rodman suggested Bae deserved his 15-year sentence in a North Korean labor camp. Oh, that was just a drunken rant, he later said in a written statement, spurred on by the stress of realizing he’s the only guy in the room defending a brutal dictator.

The Worm’s style of “basketball diplomacy” is about as bad as his attempt to channel Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. But at least the collapse of his latest goodwill efforts will remind the world that Kenneth Bae is experiencing serious health complications under the watch of Kim Jong Un’s prison guards.

Jack Ohman/Op Art

Jack Ohman/Op Art

Lucky for Rodman, Bae’s family in Washington state issued a statement last Thursday accepting his apology:

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, diplomacy, kenneth bae

January 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Kenneth Bae’s sister calls Dennis Rodman’s comments ‘appalling’

Fresh off her appearance on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ Tuesday evening, Terri Chung continued to express frustration over Dennis Rodman’s latest comments about Kenneth Bae, her imprisoned brother in North Korea.

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 up a photo of her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In a phone interview afterward, Chung said she was awakened at 4 a.m. to the news of Rodman’s meltdown during his morning appearance with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. (I wrote about that in this Opinion NW blog post.)

“I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing for him to say he’s not a diplomat that he’s not going to advocate for Kenneth Bae. He’s refused to help. That’s his choice,” she said. “But then he throws these accusations at Kenneth when he clearly has no clue what he’s talking about. It was appalling and beyond me.”

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. Bae, the latest of several Americans jailed by North Korea in recent years, has already waited longer for his freedom than any of the others had to. But as his health deteriorates, Washington and Pyongyang appear unable to negotiate, each wary of giving concessions to the other. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae.  (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

Chung said the recent news of political purges and executions in Pyongyang has elevated her concerns for her brother’s safety. The family was able to speak to him on the phone Dec. 29. The 45-year-old tour operator told them he remains hospitalized with severe back problems. Chung says Bae spoke to his children for the first time since his detainment began in November 2012.

“He misses them and he wants to come home,” she said. “I just don’t want Kenneth to be forgotten. And I also don’t want Kenneth to be used as a media story. This isn’t some game. Dennis Rodman can play all the publicity stunts he wants with his own self, but this isn’t a game. This is someone’s life, a father of three who deserves to come home.”

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Comments | Topics: bill richardson, cnn, david stern

January 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Dennis Rodman, ex-NBA players cannot dodge Kenneth Bae questions

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo grilled Dennis Rodman on Tuesday about imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, and the former NBA star lost it.

Watch the video below. Rodman and a team of ex-NBA players were interviewed from Pyongyang, where they are scheduled to participate in an exhibition game Wednesday with North Korean players.

[do action="custom_iframe" url="http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/01/07/newday-cuomo-dennis-rodman-kenneth-bae-cutdown.cnn" width="630" height="380" scrolling=""/] Rodman’s incoherent answers are a poor attempt to deflect attention from North Korea’s recent human rights abuses. Aside from the recent execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle, the regime has held former Washington resident and tour operator Kenneth Bae for more than one year.

Here is The Seattle Times’ most recent editorial calling for Bae’s release. Last May, Rodman took to Twitter to ask for Bae’s release. He has since changed his tune — and then some.

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Comments | More in Video | Topics: cnn, Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae

December 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM

No surprise: Dennis Rodman’s North Korean adventure loses sponsor

At the age of 52, the NBA’s original bad boy still seeks the attention of the cameras, but none of the responsibility that comes with being an unofficial ambassador to an irrational and unpredictable government.

Time for Dennis Rodman to grow up and get real.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman poses for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials during a practice session in Pyongyang, North Korea on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play in Pyongyang against visiting NBA stars on Jan. 8, 2014, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman poses for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials during a practice session in Pyongyang, North Korea on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play in Pyongyang against visiting NBA stars on Jan. 8, 2014, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae, kim jong un

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.

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Comments | Topics: Dennis Rodman, diplomacy, kenneth bae

September 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Dennis Rodman regrettably chose Kim Jong Un over Kenneth Bae

Updated Sept. 16 at 4:45 p.m.: Yikes. Kenneth Bae’s college friend, Bobby Lee of Portland, spoke out over the weekend against Dennis Rodman. He asked the Bae family to email the following statement:

Dennis Rodman tweeted to the world that he would step up and bring American citizen Kenneth Bae back home from a North Korean prison. Rodman claimed that Obama couldn’t do it. But he could. Then he folded like a cheap tent.

“Guess what? That’s not my job to ask about Bae,” an angry Rodman said to the media after smoking cigars with the North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. How nice.

What really happened? Rodman used Bae’s misfortune to elevate his eroding Hollywood brand. He took advantage of Bae’s setback to stage his own comeback. All the free press he received around the world would make Justin Bieber blush. And he is the only one laughing all the way to the bank while Bae’s family and friends—and the American people—are left heartbroken.

Rodman says he wants to introduce North Koreans to the world. North Koreans will take one look at him and ask, “what planet is this guy from?” We can’t think of a better argument for Kim Jung Un’s policies of complete isolation from the rest of the world than Dennis Rodman.

Rodman, there’s a real person’s life at stake. You’ve gone too far.

They call Rodman the Worm. Starting today, I ask the American people to start calling Rodman by his new nickname: Cheap Tent.

Bobby Lee, Portland, Oregon
Kenneth Bae’s Old College Buddy from University of Oregon

Original story:

Dennis Rodman returned from his second tour of North Korea last weekend without imprisoned American Kenneth Bae. He claims he didn’t even try to broach the subject with his friend, Kim Jong Un.

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman speaks to the media during a news conference in New York, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman speaks to the media during a news conference in New York, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

His callous brush-off of Bae’s detention since November 2012 is disappointing on many levels.

First, it shines a light on our sick celebrity culture and the sycophants who feed off it. Who is handling Rodman’s image and business matters? This man needs a new public relations team that can explain to him the basics of North Korea’s human rights record and protect him from getting bamboozled by a ruthless regime.

In his public statements so far, Rodman sounds utterly clueless to the suffering of North Korean citizens. There’s a photo of him smoking a cigar and laughing with Kim. Rodman claims he got to hold the dear leader’s newborn daughter.

As long as he doesn’t see the bad stuff, he doesn’t seem to care. (Read this harrowing CNN report comparing Rodman’s delusional statements to the realities on the ground. Or check out this write-up in The Independent on the Kim regime’s systematic use of torture and executions inside North Korea’s prison system.)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. Bae, the latest of several Americans jailed by North Korea in recent years, has already waited longer for his freedom than any of the others had to. But as his health deteriorates, Washington and Pyongyang appear unable to negotiate, each wary of giving concessions to the other. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung)

For months, our editorial board has focused attention on Kenneth Bae, the American who was detained by North Korean officials in November 2012. His sister, Terri Chung, wrote this powerful July 29 guest column.

Known for holding strong Christian views, Bae was working as a tour operator when he was captured. The details surrounding his arrest and conviction remain unclear. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Last we heard, Bae was transferred to a hospital after suffering health problems and lost 50 pounds in detention. The U.S. State Department must continue its efforts to seek amnesty for him.

Unlike previous situations involving American detainees, attempts by several high-profile figures to contact Bae and bring him home have failed.  Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt couldn’t do it. U.S. Envoy Robert King was invited to the country — then uninvited. Regardless of his bizarre antics, Rodman seemed like the best hope for progress after he posted this tweet last May in response to my blog post four days earlier:

During an Aug. 29 interview with HuffPost Live, Rodman admitted he didn’t write that tweet himself. Someone on his team did. Of course, that didn’t stop him from spending the summer gaining notoriety and joking about his savior status, even landing the cover of Sports Illustrated in July and reiterating his desire to try to normalize relations and free Bae.

NBA Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now" issue. (PHOTO BY CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

NBA Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual “Where Are They Now” issue. (PHOTO BY CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

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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. 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…

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

August 30, 2013 at 12:05 PM

U.S. officials should not give up efforts to secure Kenneth Bae’s release

The State Department must continue its efforts to understand why North Korean officials rescinded an invitation to a top U.S. diplomat who was planning to ask for the release of American detainee Kenneth Bae. (I wrote about that welcome development in a previous Opinion NW blog post.)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. Bae, the latest of several Americans jailed by North Korea in recent years, has already waited longer for his freedom than any of the others had to. But as his health deteriorates, Washington and Pyongyang appear unable to negotiate, each wary of giving concessions to the other. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae. (AP Photo/Courtesy Terri Chung, File)

According to an Associated Press news report in The Seattle Times:

“We have sought clarification from the DPRK about its decision and have made every effort so that Ambassador King’s trip could continue as planned or take place at a later date,” [Department spokeswoman Marie] Harf said in a statement, referring to the country’s formal title of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We remain gravely concerned about Mr. Bae’s health and we continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant Mr. Bae special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds,” Harf said.

Bob King, the Obama administration’s special envoy for North Korean human rights, was scheduled to fly into Pyongyang Friday. As our editorial board pointed out in an editorial Tuesday, this rare visit was an “opportunity to save a man’s life and ease tensions between the two countries following Pyongyang’s defiant efforts to build its nuclear program.”

Friday’s news is disheartening to us, as well as to Bae’s family in Lynnwood, Wash. His sister, Terri Chung, released the following statement Friday morning:

“Our family is disappointed by the news that the special envoy is unable to go to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to bring Kenneth home at this time. We hold on to faith that DPRK and US diplomats will resume talks soon, ultimately leading to my brother being released.

It has been 301 days since Kenneth has been detained. With every day, we continue to pray. We appreciate the work that the State Department and the Obama administration have been doing and have pledged to do for Kenneth’s release. We miss Kenneth and remain concerned about his health.

We are not giving up hope for a peaceful and timely resolution.”

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

July 22, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Kenneth Bae’s latest letters from North Korean prison raise family’s concerns

The strange dearth of media coverage on American prisoner Kenneth Bae got a little boost over the weekend after The New York Times’ Rick Gladstone wrote this July 19 news story indicating the North Koreans may be ready to negotiate for Bae’s release from a hard labor camp.

A South Korean man watches a television news program showing Korean American Kenneth Bae at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A South Korean man watches a television news program showing Korean American Kenneth Bae at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Diplomats who have dealt with North Korea said the unspoken message in both the video and the letters was that the North Korean authorities wanted to see more publicity about Mr. Bae as part of their broader effort to seek direct contact with the United States government.

Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, lives in Edmonds. In a phone conversation with me last Friday, she reiterated her family’s concerns over the Washington native’s health after viewing this July 3 prison video obtained by CNN.

“Even though he’s being treated humanely, his health is clearly deteriorating,” she said. “He’s been there for eight-and-a-half months and we need to do more to get him out.”

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