Kenneth Bae before his arrest
Kenneth Bae, a US citizen, used to be a tour operator and Christian missionary. He was arrested last year while leading a group of tourists visiting North Korea. There was a rumour that the regime found evidence on his computer that he was gathering information about starving orphans, but whatever he did, he was officially charged with trying overthrow the government, and sentenced to 15 years hard labour.
Bae, 6 months after arrest
Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others were eventually freed, without serving out their prison terms, some after President Clinton and Carter visited North Korea.
The US keeps pushing the dictator to abandon his nuclear weapons program and he uses detained US citizens as pawns. Late last year he issued an invitation to a US envoy to come and talk about Bae's release, but it was cancelled at the last minute.
Although we don't know the real reason why Bae is in prison, we can guess. In one of his sermons, he wanted to bring Americans to North Korea for a mass prayer vigil, to reunite the North and the South.
Dennis Rodman is in the news again for paying another visit to the friend he says he "loves." On Tuesday, when CNN's Chris Cuomo asked him about Kenneth Bae's release, he lost it.
"The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing....if you understand.... what Kenneth Bae did" a flustered Rodman said to Cuomo...."Do you understand what he did? ....In this country?"
"What did he do" Cuomo asked "You tell me."
"You tell me" Rodman replied. "You tell me....why is he held captive?"
Cuomo tried to keep it going but Rodman was way out of his depth. "I don't give a rat's arse what you think" he said.
Dennis Rodman's opinion of the worst dictator in modern history is naive and misguided.
"The marshal is actually trying to change this country in a great way" Rodman said of Kim; and then
"Just to even have us here, it's an awesome feeling. I want these guys to show the world and speak about North Korea in a great light" he said. "I hope people will have a different view about North Korea."
Merrill E Newman
North Korea held Merrill Newman 85, for a month for fighting in the Korean War, 60 years ago. He was removed from a plane at the end of a tourist trip he took with a friend from his retirement home. He had to apologise for committing a "long list of indelible crimes" before he was allowed to leave. He said later "Anyone that knows me, knows that I could not have done those things they made me confess to."
This is the country and the leader Dennis Rodman wants us to embrace. Give me a break!