Dennis Rodman recently took ten retired NBA players on a trip to North Korea to play basketball. On January 7, the New York Daily News reports that Rodman lost it during an interview in which he was asking about Kenneth Bae.
Rodman and the rest of his exhibition team sat down for an interview with CNN that was conducted from Pyongyang. The game was arranged in honor of the North Korean despot Kim Jong Un's 31st birthday.
During the course of the interview, Dennis Rodman became agitated after interviewer Chris Cuomo asked him if he was going to attempt to free Kenneth Bae. Rodman responded to Cuomo in a rather upset manner saying, "Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? ... I would love to speak on this."
Bae, a Korean-American citizen, was convicted in North Korea of planning to overthrow the government. He was sentenced to 15-years hard labor and is said to have health issues. The United States government, his family and supporters want him to come home.
According to reports, Bae was arrested and convicted after photographs of starving children in North Korea were found on his personal computer. He was travelling in North Korea with a group of tourists at the time. Since his conviction, Bae has apologized and begged to be returned to the United States. He reportedly had no idea the laws he was breaking while travelling abroad and maintains that his mistake was an innocent one.
Dennis Rodman has made repeated trips to spend time with the leader of North Korea and refuses to have a conversation with Jong Un regarding the situation or possible release of Kenneth Bae. He maintains that the dictator is his friend and that he is working to improve relations between the United States and North Korea through basketball.
The White House has made it clear that they do not support nor condone Dennis Rodman's travel to North Korea. He is not on any sort of government sponsored trip. Additionally, NBA Commissioner David Stern also says he does not support Rodman's relationship with Kim Jong Un.
This most recent trip by Rodman and company comes fresh on the heels of the execution of Jong Un's uncle. Kim Jong Un ordered the death of his uncle, Jang Song Thae, under charges of trying to overthrow the state. Although unconfirmed, there are reports that the leader had his own uncle killed by stripping him naked and having him fed to a pack of starving dogs. It is unclear if that story is true or if it has been publicized to show just how ruthless the North Korean leader can be.