Dennis Rodman isn’t going to let the imprisonment of a Korean-American missionary dampen his second trip to North Korea.
“I’m there to just have a good time, sit with [Kim Jong Un], and that’s pretty much it,” the former NBA star said before leaving Beijing for the authoritarian state this week, brushing off speculation he would try to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, a tour operator who was arrested last November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour.
Rodman’s first trip to the country this past February, in which he suggested “basketball diplomacy” could warm relations between Pyongyang and Washington, was slammed by U.S. officials, who labelled the visit a stunt that gave Kim a propaganda boost.
Still, the one-time Chicago Bulls star is adamant his latest trip is just a friendly opportunity to talk sports with the “awesome” Kim. “I’ve come out here to see my friend,” said Rodman. “I want to talk about basketball.”