Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is tapping his friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to ask for the release of a Korean-American man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the North.
“I’m calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him ’Kim,’ to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,” Rodman said on Twitter. He later called the tweet a direct response to a Seattle Times editorial that dared him to ask Kim for the release if the two are really buddies.
Rodman visited North Korea in February and sat next to Kim as they watched an exhibition basketball game. His trip came at a time of high tension between Pyongyang and Washington and was not endorsed by the US State Department.
Bae is a tour operator who was arrested in North Korea in November. The North’s Supreme Court sentenced him for unspecified “hostile acts” against the state. In a Foreign Ministry statement on May 5, North Korea said the 44-year-old Washington state man entered the country with a disguised identity.