The sister of a man imprisoned in North Korea has expressed her concern that basketball player Dennis Rodman is jeopardising efforts to free her brother.
Mr Rodman is currently in the country to celebrate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s birthday in Pyongyang, where he and other NBA players played an exhibition game. Mr Rodman also sang happy birthday to the leader.
Mr Bae's sister Terri Chung said on Wednesday that the 45-year-old’s family were in disbelief when Mr Rodman refused to discuss MR Bae’s case with North Korean leaders.
During an interview with US news network CNN, Mr Rodman also implied that Bae may deserve his punishment.
“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.
Mr Bae’s family have unsuccessfully attempted to contact Mr Rodman and his agent in the past, Ms 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.”
Mr Bae was arrested for alleged crimes against the state in November 2012, while leading a tour group in the country. His sister suspects that Mr Bae was detained for being a Christian.
He was sentenced to 15 year hard labour, but was moved to a hospital last summer due to poor health.
His family say he has diabetes, an enlarged heart, and a back injury that prevents him for standing for more than 30 minutes at a time.
The US State Department has told Mr Bae’s family that it is doing everything it can to help him, but Ms Chung said she is not aware of any plans.
Bae was born in South Korea and moved to the United States in 1985 with his parents and sister where he attended the University of Oregon. He later 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 on 29 December because of the holidays, marking the first time the man was able to speak to his three children from a previous marriage.
Before his arrest, Mr Bae lived in China for seven years with his wife and stepdaughter where he ran a tour business and led 18 legal trips to North Korea, his sister said.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
- More about:
- Family And Parenting
- Higher Education
- Kim Jong-il
- North Korea