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Family appalled Rodman won’t help detained man

January 8, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) — The sister of a U.S. man imprisoned in North Korea says she’s worried that Dennis Rodman, who is in the country to celebrate the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un, is hurting efforts to free her brother.

Terri Chung said Wednesday his family couldn’t believe what Dennis Rodman has said about Kenneth Bae. In a CNN interview Tuesday, Rodman said he refused to discuss Bae with North Korean leaders and implied Bae may deserve to be imprisoned. Rodman and other former National Basketball Association players played in an exhibition game Wednesday in Pyongyang and Rodman sang a verse from a birthday song to Kim.

Chung said her brother did nothing wrong and that Rodman didn’t know what he was talking about.

“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.

Bae’s family has tried to reach Rodman or his agent without success, 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.”

Bae, 45, was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group. He was accused of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. He was moved to a hospital last summer in poor health.

The State Department has told the family it’s doing everything it can to free Bae, but Chung is not aware of anything in the works.

Bae was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 1985 with his parents and sister.

Bae was allowed to call home Dec. 29 because of the holidays, Chung said.

It was the first time his three children from an earlier marriage have spoken to him, she said. He has two in Arizona and another in Hawaii, ages 17, 22 and 23, Chung said.

Before his arrest, Bae lived in China for seven years with his wife and stepdaughter. He ran a tour business and led 18 trips to North Korea, Chung said.