Most Americans know all about Dennis Rodman’s recent visit to North Korea where he played a basketball game with former NBA stars as a part of Kim Jong-un’s birthday celebration. Not as many know who Kenneth Bae is, a U.S. Citizen currently imprisoned in North Korea. Dennis Rodman’s recent remarks concerning Bae’s imprisonment have been called “outrageous” by Bae’s sister. Bae’s health is believed to be in very serious jeopardy.
On Tuesday Rodman was asked via satellite if he would begin working on Bae’s situation or would bring up that question during his visit. Bae is being held on charges of crimes against the state.
“Kenneth Bae did one thing,” Rodman yelled during the interview, clearly upset. He also was waving a cigar at the camera as he spoke.
“If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive in this country, why?…I would love to speak on this,” said Rodman.
Those comments concerning the imprisoned U.S. citizens have been called “outrageous” by Bae’s sister. She also said that it is his choice not to help but that making statements like these is uncalled for.
Apparently Rodman never got the chance to say what Bae, in fact, did do. Actually, no one seems to be sure exactly what Bae did to warrant his prison sentence. In an article on Fox News, Rodman’s quote is alluded to but there is then never any follow up detailing Bae’s crime.
CNN has reported some information surrounding Bae’s imprisonment. According to CNN, Bae was taking a group of tourists on the first of a five day long tour into North Korea when he was arrested. North Korea announced his arrest and said that he would be sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp, but further elaboration on Bae’s crimes were not given. They did say he had done “hostile acts to bring down [North Korea’s] government.”
CNN has speculated that it could have been something that Bae was carrying, for example a Bible or a piece of religious literature that got him landed in a North Korean labor camp.
Bae’s imprisonment is a very serious matter, but the most important reason it is of national interest is Bae’s health. North Korea is considered to have among the most cruel penal systems in the world. In footage of Bae, gathered in a prison interview with a Tokyo based news team that supports North Korea, Bae looked very thin and complained of high blood pressure, diabetes and, perhaps most concerning, a fatty liver.
Rodman’s trip to North Korea also featured a moment when the former Defensive Player of the Year and former teammate of Michael Jordan sang “Happy Birthday” for the supreme leader. Both the U.S. government and the National Basketball Association have announced that they do not support Rodman’s actions. The White House said that if they could have stopped Rodman’s trip they would have but that is not possible.
Rodman will certainly keep seeing the North Korean he terms a “friend for life.” Although Rodman’s concerning remarks have been called “outrageous,” it does not appear he will be using that friendship to help the imprisoned U.S. citizen any time soon.
By Nick Manai