The family of Kenneth Bae, an American citizen detained in North Korea, is "outraged" by former NBA star Dennis Rodman's comments suggesting that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was right to detain the missionary.
"Dennis Rodman could do a lot of good by advocating for Kenneth to Kim Jong-un, but instead he has decided to hurl outrageous accusations at my brother, insinuating that Kenneth has done something sinister," Bae's sister, Terri Chung, said in a statement today.
"He is clearly uninformed about Kenneth's case, and he is certainly not in any position to pass judgment on Kenneth Bae, who has never any hostile intentions against the DPRK," she added.
Rodman is leading a delegation of former NBA players for an exhibition match against the North Korean national team today in Pyongyang. Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim shortly before the game began in front of a crowd of about 14,000 people. Kim, who is believed to be turning 31 years old, watched the game along with his wife and other North Korean officials from a special seating area in the arena.
In a Tuesday interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, Rodman became agitated when he was repeatedly challenged on why he's not using his connection with Kim to help Bae, 45, who was arrested in November 2012.
"The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did," said Rodman. "Do you understand what he did? In this country?"
The North Koreans accuse Bae, an American missionary, of "hostile acts" and attempting to foment a coup.
Rodman contends that his trips to North Korea are part of his "basketball diplomacy."
"It is clear to me, however, that there is nothing diplomatic about his trip. My family and I are outraged by Rodman's recent comments. He is playing games with my brother's life. There is no diplomacy, only games, and at my brother's expense," Chung said.
Rodman's exchange with Cuomo became increasingly contentious and at one point, Rodman snapped, "I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think."
Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor and is reportedly suffering from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems, back pain and has lost considerable weight since his arrest.
"We ask the DPRK to please have mercy and grant Kenneth amnesty. My brother has been detained longer than any American in recent history, and this needs to end now. Please let Kenneth come home to his family," Chung's statement concluded.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- Dennis Rodman
- Kenneth Bae
- North Korea
- Kim Jong-un