Former basketball star Dennis Rodman flew Tuesday to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, where he says he will once more hang out with his friend Kim Jong Un, the reclusive state’s young dictator.
Rodman shocked the world when he met and praised Kim during a visit to North Korea in February with the Harlem Globetrotters. The flamboyant and often controversial star became the first American to meet the leader, a 29-year-old basketball fan whose father and grandfather ruled North Korea before him.
At Beijing airport Tuesday, Rodman said he will “try to bridge a gap with Americans and North Korea” and expects to meet Kim for dinner Tuesday or Wednesday. But he will not raise the case of jailed U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, who is currently serving a 15-year hard labor sentence for committing “hostile acts” toward North Korea. “I’m not a diplomat,” he said repeatedly Tuesday.
Then what is the point?!!
On Friday, North Korean authorities forced the last-minute cancellation of a trip to Pyongyang by the U.S. Special Envoy for Human Rights Ambassador Robert King, who had hoped to secure Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds. Bae’s family is concerned about his health.
Rodman has no official remit from the U.S. government but is clearly relishing his new-found role and highly unusual access to the North Korean leader. “I’m not there to be a diplomat, I’m going over there to just have a good time with him and his family, that’s pretty much it,” he said. Rodman said he will “try to bridge a gap with Americans and North Korea, just let people see in America that it’s not a bad thing to go to North Korea, and have a good time and meet new people.”
Kim and his wife hosted Rodman and his entourage at a lavish, liquor-fueled dinner in February after they watched an exhibition game of basketball together. Rodman expects the liquor to flow again on this trip but said he was not bringing in any of his Bad Boy brand vodka, launched in July, as gifts for Kim.
Rodman flew on Air Koryo, the state airline, on a flight scheduled to land in Pyongyang at 4 p.m. local time Tuesday afternoon. Air Koryo has been called the world’s worst airline by Skytrax, a United Kingdom-based consultancy, which gave the airline just one star on its review and ranking website.
Can’t stand traitors!!