SEATTLE (AP) — The sister of a Washington man imprisoned in North Korea said she’s worried Dennis Rodman, who is in the country to celebrate the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un, is hurting efforts to free her brother.
Terri Chung said Wednesday her family couldn’t believe what Dennis Rodman said about Kenneth Bae. In a CNN interview Tuesday, Rodman said he refused to discuss Bae with North Korean leaders and implied Bae might deserve to be imprisoned. Rodman and other former NBA players played in an exhibition game Wednesday in Pyongyang and Rodman sang a verse from a birthday song to Kim.
Chung said her brother did nothing wrong and Rodman didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Clearly, he’s uninformed and doesn’t know anything about Kenneth or his detainment. I don’t think he has any authority to speak or pass judgment on Kenneth, certainly,” Chung said.
Bae’s family tried to reach Rodman or his agent without success, Chung said.
“He made it clear he doesn’t want to help. My concern is he’s hurting the cause,” she said. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Bae, 45, was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group. He was accused of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. He was moved to a hospital last summer in poor health.
The State Department told the family it’s doing everything it can to free Bae, but Chung is not aware of anything in the works.
Bae was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 1985 with his parents and sister. He attended the University of Oregon and lived in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, where his mother, Myunghee Bae, now lives. Chung lives in nearby Edmonds.
Bae was allowed to call home Dec. 29 because of the holidays, Chung said.