Kenneth Bae, the American citizen sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in North Korea, is running out of options after the closed state canceled a U.S. State Department visit to arrange his release. And one of his strongest potential advocates — Dennis Rodman, who’s scheduled to arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday — says he won’t help him. “I’ve come out here to see my friend (Kim) – and I want to talk about basketball,” Rodman told Reuters on Monday. “I’m not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae,” he said. “I’m just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour.” That’s odd because Rodman said in the past that he did intend to use his influence to help free Bae, because President Barack Obama “can’t do shit.”
Rodman is one of the few Americans, perhaps the only one, with such unfettered access to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, since the two became “friends for life” during a Vice-sponsored trip there in February. Ambassador Bob King, the State Department’s special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, would have been the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the closed country in two years. But the North canceled his planned visit as he was en route, with no explanation. The visit was supposed to be a “done deal,” U.S. officials told journalist Nate Thayer. “He was going there to pick up the package.”
So that leaves Rodman as Bae’s next best advocate. And at least as far as he’s now saying publicly, the former basketball star doesn’t plan to play that role. Or to put it in terms Rodman might employ, he won’t do shit.