January 8th, 2014
04:43 AM ET

Kenneth Bae's Sister: 'It's Long Past Time for Him to Come Home'

Eccentric basketball star Dennis Rodman's bizarre outburst about an American citizen jailed in North Korea has drawn widespread criticism, including from the prisoner's family. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.

Rodman drew disdain from the White House with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying  "I am not going to dignify that outburst with a response."

He was also  disavowed by U.S. diplomats.

Jen Psaki, State Dept. spokeswoman said: "Mr. Rodman is not there representing the United States. People should remember that when they look at his comments and hear his comments."

But who is prisoner Kenneth Bae and why is he being held by North Korea?

Those are the questions for many following the combative exchange Tuesday between Dennis Rodman and Chris Cuomo on CNN's "New Day," who asked whether the former NBA player was planning to inquire about Bae, a U.S. citizen sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean labor camp.

In response, Rodman, who is in North Korea with a team of fellow former NBA players, suggested the Korean-American had done something wrong, but did not specify what.

"Do you understand what he did in this country?" Rodman asked Cuomo. "No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why?"

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, told "New Day" Wednesday, "I was shocked by his words and I'm not sure where he's getting his information and how much credence I would give to his outburst. He's certainly not a diplomat and not an authority on this case at all. I don't think he has any, in any kind of position to remark on his case, especially after making it clear he has no intention to help."

Born in South Korea, Bae immigrated at age 16 to the United States with his parents, his mother told CNN.

The 44-year-old Bae, of Lynwood, Washington, moved to China in 2005. A year later he established "Nations Tour," a China-based tour company that specialized in tours of North Korea, according to his family and freekennow.com, a website established by friends to promote his release.

Described by his sister as a devout Christian, Bae is married and the father of three children.

"Several years ago, Kenneth saw an opportunity that combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his personal convictions as a Christian," the website said. "He believed in showing compassion to the North Korean people by contributing to their economy in the form of tourism."

Bae had guided at least 15 tour groups, mostly made up of Americans and Canadians, into North Korea at the time of his arrest, his family has said.

Bae was on the first day of a five-day tour when he was arrested November 3, 2012, in Rason, an area along the northeastern coast of North Korea that has been established by Pyongyang as a special economic zone to promote trade and investment.

See more at CNN.com 

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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. JayBe

    Chris Cuomo perhaps it is short sighted on your part or selective amnesia on your part but America supports dictatorships around the world that are just as bad we easily look pass human rights violations when it comes to strategic resources. America is only concern with democracy inside it boarders but outside of that we supported Suddam Huessin, Manuel, Noreiga, Augusto Pinoche' etc. i suggest you also not be so mighty to judge another nation as America was founded on the atrocities of the indigenous (millions) and economically built on the backs of African slaves, as you have inherited from the social dilemma white privilege. i would suggest you not act as an agent for cold war tactics as you seem stuck in the past, the world has to move forward at some point.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:16 am | Reply
  2. Twayne

    Does Coumo have the balls to interview Rodman live? No chance. But MP could do it and do a better job of informing the audience.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  3. Twayne

    Bae's sister should be outraged at the US gvt. And the CNN crowd should be reporting that. I wish CNN would ask her what the US gvt has done and listen closely to her answer...they have done NOTHING!!!!! Report that please. Report how the Korean people want to unify and put the Korean conflict behind them. Put some s. Korea politicians on the air. Ask them about US policy PLEASE!!!! Help us really go beyond the rhetoric. Think like Ted Turner and promote a global view and not a Fox News view. Or just stick to reading the news

    January 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  4. Furious Styles

    Good grief, please tell me you aren't asking Dennis Rodman to go bat for you. Rodman is not an elected official paid by the taxpayer who would be accountable in any aspect of foreign policy or international relations. The fact that Rodman continues to get media coverage on his trips to North Korea speaks to how low the level of integrity that journalism and media as a profession has sunk.

    We all know that Rodman is probably crazy and after his 1st trip to North Korea, coverage on him should have been over and done with instead of the beating of the dead-horse that continues to garner the front page of the major and small news outlets.

    Rodman at one time was a great basketball player, and at most any other time, people would tell athletes, entertainers, rappers and other celebrities to stick to their own profession and what they do best. This current matter with Kenneth Bae is NOT what Rodman knows best. He should stay out of it and let our elected officials, the ones who the taxpayers pay do their own job in this matter.

    Why is Chris Cuomo interviewing someone who is no diplomat or international consulate that does not have the experience on foreign policy, human rights, or any real understanding of why North Korea has been the way it is and likely will always be that way.

    Shouldn't Chris Coumo be putting John Kerry or Hilary Clinton on the spot instead? Are you really asking Dennis Rodman to go bat for you? Really, Rodman?

    January 8, 2014 at 9:07 am | Reply
  5. The Pope

    Me bringee bybers to heedens in Naw Kaweeah. Day rykee veh we much. tank u.

    January 8, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  6. Abraham

    Chris, your coverage of this issue has been a little embarrassing. You take yourself a little too seriously; it's as though you've discovered the most important news story of the year - "Rodman, an unlikely ambassador [for Kenneth Bae] not up to the task...(DUH!)". Even Bae's sister during your interview this morning acknowledged that Rodman is not a diplomat. So, I can't understand why you (CNN) would want to follow the thread that DENNIS RODMAN should seemingly be held accountable for Bae; or, even be appalled that RODMAN, a cartoon character, would “flip the script” and find Bae at fault. It must be the entertainment value. However, it really stopped being entertainment. It would be more entertaining to hear exactly why Rodman likes the leader. But concerning Bae, could you focus on what Rodman asked you: “Do you know what he [Bae] did?”

    January 8, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  7. joldham


    January 8, 2014 at 9:01 am | Reply

    Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea and comes back no problem. Psychopath bible thumper Kenneth Bae goes ... does not come back. If I had a choice...I would have to side with Rodman. I appreciate his efforts.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:53 am | Reply
  9. Lord Toronaga

    Soooo, The world has to stop because Kenneth Bae "needed" to go to North Korea and drop off his useless bibles. Seems God didn't appreciate his efforts either...ahhhh so sawee. Stop blaming Rodman for his "need" to go to North Korea... He's only doing what he thinks is right...

    January 8, 2014 at 8:49 am | Reply
  10. Lord Toronaga

    Denis Rodman has every right to go to North Korea and do and say as he pleases. Guess what Terri Chung... it's not about you and your own crazy brother. What was your brother doing in North Korea ? Bible thumping ? I'm no fan of Rodman but what he does is his business.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply
  11. Victor Bonilla

    Rodman needs to get the F**K out of that country and stop playing pussy foot with this piece of S**T dictator. With all the BULLS**T they have pulled on us he and these other players should be boycotting this country and respect the American people. Unless he is playing buddy, buddy with this guy under top government instructions just to get close enough to find out things he needs to get out before they find out and skin those tattoos off his ass.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:00 am | Reply
  12. Peter Ngatia

    Sister says Bae never did anything Wrong,. Rodman never said Bae did anything wrong, Rodman is being misquoted. He maybe saying, since you know that Bae never did anything wrong, don't you think the ten guys also have to stick to our mission( They also have families back in States. 'they also have not done anything wrong, when you play with a tiger before taming it reasonably you can as well face similar consequences!, they need time. Being Behind a microphone i States one is relatively safe, but provoking Kim, they ten guys and their family may not predict what next.

    January 8, 2014 at 7:46 am | Reply
  13. uncommon sense

    He is being held captive for proselytizing in an unfriendly regime.. seems like she should be mad at her brother... although a nuisance, rodman was invited... i see a huge difference..

    January 8, 2014 at 7:45 am | Reply

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