Dennis Rodman returns to Pyongyang, but not to bring back jailed American

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman waits to check in as he transits to Pyongyang, at Beijing Capital International Airport, September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman waits to check in for his flight to Pyongyang at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

Flamboyant former basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for a five-day visit, his second this year, but said he had no plans to negotiate the release of a jailed American missionary.

There had been speculation that Rodman, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in March, would secure the release of Kenneth Bae, who was jailed for 15 years for allegedly trying to overthrow the North Korean government.

“I’m not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae,” Rodman told Reuters in a telephone interview before he left Beijing for Pyongyang. “I’m just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour.”

Kim, the third of his line to rule North Korea, is a basketball fan and appeared to get on well with Rodman on the earlier visit, with the two of them pictured laughing, eating and drinking together and watching an all-star basketball match.

Rodman’s latest trip is being sponsored by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power. His arrival was announced on North Korean news agency KCNA, which did not provide any further details of the trip.

Wearing his trademark dark sunglasses, the 6-foot-7 Rodman pushed through a throng of journalists at Beijing’s international airport, a common waystation for travelers to North Korea.

“I’m just trying to go over there to meet my friend Kim, the marshal,” Rodman said. “Try to start a basketball league over there, something like that.”

North Korea canceled a visit by Robert King, U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, to Pyongyang last week on what the U.S. State Department said was a “humanitarian mission” to negotiate Bae’s release.

King’s trip was initially seen as a signal that relations between Washington and Pyongyang might start to improve. North Korea said it withdrew the invitation because of annual military drills last week by the United States and South Korea.

Rodman drew fire for his earlier trip to Pyongyang at a time when North Korea was threatening the United States, South Korea and Japan with missile strikes.

He called Kim, 30, who rules unchallenged in a country where there are an estimated 150,000-200,000 prisoners in work camps, “an awesome kid.”

Bae, a Korean American who had been working as a Christian missionary in China and North Korea, 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.

Bae, who had trained with missionary organization Youth With a Mission, ran a tour group called Nation Tours in China that specialized in trips to North Korea. In a video of a 2009 sermon to a Korean-American church in St. Louis, Bae said he planned to bring fellow Christians into Rason.

North Korea says it permits religious freedom, but religious expression is tightly controlled in a state that acknowledges total loyalty to the Kim dynasty that has ruled for three generations. North Korea lands at the bottom of most independent surveys of freedom.

Bae’s family has acknowledged his deeply held religious beliefs but has suggested that his sympathy for North Korean orphans may have been behind his arrest.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Arts

EXCLUSIVE: Backstage with Adam Jacobs at 'Aladdin' on…

Metro shadowed Adam Jacobs backstage at "Aladdin" on Broadway.

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…