Dennis Rodman says heading back to N.Korea
This photo dated February 28, 2013 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 1, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (front R) hugging former NBA star Dennis Rodman during a dinner in Pyongyang. Rodman said he plans a second trip to North Korea to try to use his budding friendship with Kim to free a jailed American.
The flamboyant basketball legend, approached by celebrity news website TMZ as he walked on a Los Angeles street Thursday, said he would return to North Korea on August 1 on a mission to release jailed tour organizer Kenneth Bae.
"I'll be back over there. I'm going to try to get the guy out," the heavily tattooed Rodman said in between waving to well-wishers.
"It's going to be difficult because I think his nationality, because of his background, I think it's a whole different situation," Rodman said, implying that Bae's Korean heritage raised Pyongyang's suspicions.
The player known as "The Worm" said he has not consulted with US officials about his mission, explaining of his relationship with Kim: "I don't do politics. Like I said, he's my friend, that's it."
Rodman in February became the only prominent American to meet Kim, declaring himself a "friend for life" of the authoritarian 20-something leader and embracing him after the pair watched a basketball game together in Pyongyang.
Rodman, who faced ridicule from many US pundits over the trip, has already taken to Twitter to urge the release of Bae, whose Korean name is Pae Jun-Ho and who was sentenced last week to 15 years of hard labor.
The onetime Chicago Bull defended his visit to North Korea and criticized President Barack Obama, who has vowed no concessions to the communist state until it returns to international agreements on ending its nuclear program.
"We got a black president -- can't go even talk to him. Obama can't do s(expletive)," he said.
Rodman's visit came amid soaring tensions on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang carrying out its third nuclear test in February and threatening nuclear war against South Korea and the United States.
But Rodman said defensively of Kim: "He put those missiles back into storage, right?"
A US defense official said Monday that North Korea has moved two medium-range Musudan missiles away from a launching site, following weeks of warnings by the United States, South Korea and Japan against a test-firing.
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