PYONGYANG, North Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman was greeted at the Pyongyang airport Tuesday by government officials just days after North Korea rejected a visit by a U.S. envoy who had hoped to bring home Kenneth Bae, the Lynnwood, Wash., missionary being detained there.
Rodman said the purpose of his visit was to display his friendship for the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and for North Korea and to “show people around the world that we as Americans can actually get along with North Korea.”
Just this past weekend, a planned trip by Robert King, the U.S. envoy for North Korean human rights, fell through after North Korea said it couldn’t forgive the inclusion of U.S. nuclear-capable bombers in recently concluded U.S.-South Korean military drills.
Jonathan Bae, the son of Kenneth Bae, who last year was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being accused of committing hostile acts against the state, told ABCNews.com he is hoping that Rodman can perform a “miracle” and help bring his father home.
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“North Korea is a crazy place and anything is possible, even Dennis Rodman rescuing my father,” said Jonathan Bae.
He said he had been in touch with Rodman’s representatives, but had not been promised anything.
ABCNews.com spoke with Jonathan Bae just as Rodman arrived for his second trip to the reclusive country.
Rodman declined to say whether he would seek Kenneth Bae’s release. Bae’s health is poor, and he was recently transferred to a hospital.
“I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that,” said Rodman. “I have not been promised anything. I am just going there as a friendly gesture.”
Rodman once asked on his Twitter account for Kim to “do me a solid” and release Bae.
Rodman said he planned to see Kim “pretty soon,” perhaps later Tuesday or Wednesday.
Rodman first met Kim — a die-hard basketball fan — during a visit in February to promote the sport and make a film. U.S. officials frowned on the trip for giving the young leader a propaganda boost.
Rodman’s last trip was sponsored by Vice Media, and he drew wide criticism for cozying up to a government with a long record of human-rights abuses.
The current trip is being sponsored by Paddy Power, an Irish gambling operation, he said.