LYNNWOOD, Wash. – The sister of Lynnwood’s Kenneth Bae, who is imprisoned in North Korea, said Tuesday she was outraged by former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s comments in Pyongyang about her brother. “This is not a game, this is a man’s life,” she said.
In an exclusive interview from North Korea Tuesday with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Rodman defended his visit to North Korea with a team of fellow former NBA players in a combative exchange, saying the trip was a “great idea for the world.” They are there to play a basketball game on Wednesday’s birthday of the North Korean dictator.
Rodman reacted angrily when pressed on whether the group should have traveled there and whether he was planning to ask North Korean leaders about Bae, a U.S. citizen who was arrested in North Korea, convicted last spring by North Korea of “hostile acts” intended to topple the government and sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp.
In response, Rodman suggested the Korean-American had done something wrong, but did not specify what.
“Do you understand what he did in this country?” Rodman asked Cuomo.
“You tell me, what did he do?” Cuomo asked.
“No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me,” Rodman said. “Why is he held captive here in this country, why? … I would love to speak on this.”
Cuomo noted the North Korean government never released any charges and urged Rodman to speak out on what Bae allegedly did. But Rodman evaded the question.
“You know,” Rodman said, “you’ve got 10 guys here, 10 guys here, that have left their families, they’ve left their damn families, to help this country in a sports venture. That’s 10 guys, all these guys here, do anyone understand that?”
“We do,” responded Cuomo. “And we appreciate that and we wish them well with cultural exchange.”
“No, no, no, no,” Rodman continued. “I don’t give a rat’s a– what the hell you think. I’m saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them … they dared to do one thing, they came here.”
Bae, a married father of three, has reportedly suffered a series of health problems during his detention.
Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said in an interview with Q13 FOX News late Tuesday that Rodman’s remarks were outrageous.
“It’s one thing to play games with his own image, but this is not a game, this is a man’s life,” Chung said.
“He has refused to help, that’s his choice, but instead he has chosen to make these outrageous accusations that he clearly doesn’t know anything about,” she added.
She said her brother was in North Korea legally working as a tour operator. She hoped one of the former basketball players would take a chance to ask for amnesty for him.
“In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney noted that Rodman is on a private trip and that the United States has called for North Korea to release Bae.
“Our views about Kenneth Bae have not changed,” he said.
“I did not see some of the comments that Mr. Rodman made, but I am not going to dignify that outburst with a response,” Carney added. “I am simply going to say that we remain gravely concerned about Kenneth Bae’s health and continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant his amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds.”
To watch CNN’s full Dennis Rodman interview, click here.