Rodman leaves North, minus jailed American
Rodman’s trip came shortly after North Korea abruptly withdrew an invitation to Robert King, the U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues to visit Pyongyang in a bid to secure Bae’s release. But Rodman had denied any links to efforts on Bae’s behalf.
The 45-year-old Bae, a tour operator, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in May for crimes against the state. He had been arrested in November in North Korea; his health has deteriorated since he was imprisoned.
The 6-foot 7-inch (2.01 metre) Rodman emerged at Beijing’s international airport, a common way station for travelers to and from North Korea, with an unlit cigar in his mouth.
“That’s not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae. Ask Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton,” he told a throng of reporters. “I don’t give a s--t.”
Kim and Rodman had dinner and watched a basketball game together during Rodman’s five-day trip, the North’s state-run news agency, KCNA, reported.
KCNA added Kim warmly welcomed Rodman and had a “cordial talk.” Rodman reportedly expressed his thanks to the leader for spending time with him, saying Kim’s greeting is “an expression of good faith towards the Americans.”
Rodman showed reporters in Beijing pictures of him meeting Kim, and said he had given Kim a gift of his Bad Boy Vodka, which “he loved.”
“He is my friend for life. I don’t care what you guys think about him,” he added.
Rodman’s latest trip was sponsored by an Irish bookmaker, Paddy Power. Kim, the third of his line to rule North Korea, is a basketball fan and appeared to get along well with Rodman on the earlier visit, with the two of them pictured laughing, eating and drinking together and watching an all-star basketball match.
Rodman first visited Pyongyang earlier this year at a time when North Korea was threatening the United States, South Korea and Japan with missile strikes.