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'The Worm' Returns To North Korea; Rodman Visits Again

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, before his flight to Pyongyang, North Korea.
Petar Kujundzic
/
Reuters /Landov
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, before his flight to Pyongyang, North Korea.
From the NPR Newscast: Anthony Kuhn reports on Dennis Rodman's latest visit to North Korea

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is visiting North Korea again, six months after spending time there with dictator Kim Jong Un — an "awesome" man, in Rodman's opinion.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing that:

"Rodman was spotted transiting the Beijing airport en route to Pyongyang, sporting his characteristic lip and nose rings, plus green hair.

"He says he plans to hang out with Kim Jong Un, whom he has called his friend. ... [Rodman also] said he was not going to try to free Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American tour guide and pastor.

"North Korea has freed several U.S. citizens it has detained in recent years, following visits by ex-presidents inclluding Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. North Korea had invited a U.S. envoy who could have negotiated for Bae's release, but Pyongyang withdrew the invitation at the last minute."

Bae, as Reuters reminds us, is "a Korean-American who had been working as a Christian missionary in China and North Korea [when he] was arrested in the northeast port city of Rason late last year. The North Korean supreme court said it sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for plotting to overthrow the state. It said he had secretly brought 'propaganda materials,' including a National Geographic documentary on life in North Korea, into the isolated country."

Although Rodman says he isn't in North Korea to push for Bae's freedom, he did say in May that he was "calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him 'Kim', to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose."

What's more, The Wall Street Journal notes that:

"As recently as last Thursday, Mr. Rodman was going on camera to tell whomever would listen that he's hoping to rescue Mr. Bae, perhaps as part of his long-shot bid to win the Nobel Peace Prize. (See Friday's video here, and fast-forward to 14:50 for the bit about North Korea.)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.