The US had planned to send a special envoy to North Korea in order to negotiate for the release of American Kenneth Bae, who has been sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor, but Pyongyang backed out of the meeting. Pyongyang instead has received a much more special envoy — Dennis Rodman, who expressed his “love” for Kim Jong-un after his first visit earlier this year. Rodman initially indicated he would ask for Bae’s release, but later backed away from that promise:
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman landed in Pyongyang, North Korea, today for a five-day visit to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but the trip he said is not to free jailed American missionary Kenneth Bae.
“I’m going to North Korea to meet my friend, Kim,” Rodman told reporters while transiting at Beijing’s airport earlier today. “It’s a friendly gesture.”
Bae, currently serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor in North Korea, was arrested for attempting to overthrow the communist government. Negotiations for his release was canceled at the last minute by North Korea just before Robert King, U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, was to visit Pyongyang last week.
Pyongyang’s excuse for the abrupt withdrawal was disapproval of the U.S. military participating in annual joint drills with South Korea.
Dennis Rodman has better be careful about getting too close to Kim Jong-un. Strange things happen to those who “love” Kim, as his former girlfriend and her bandmates discovered a little too late, according to some reports. More seriously, if Rodman travels to meet with this dictator and doesn’t at least attempt to get Bae released, it would be even more shameful than Rodman’s first trip and post-trip propaganda, and that’s hard to accomplish.