SALEM, Ore. - A former Duck imprisoned at a labor camp in North Korea is losing both weight and hope - and former NBA star Dennis Rodman hasn't helped the situation with his forays to the country, a friend of the prisoner said.
Friends of former University of Oregon student Kenneth Bae want the White House to continue effort to bring the Washington state man home. Bae led tours into North Korea. He has been imprisoned, accused of trying to overthrow the North Korean regime.
Bobby Lee knew Bae at UO, and the two remain friends.
Lee, a former Eugene City Councilor who is now an advisor to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, said he has exchanged letters with Bae, with the Swedish government acting as go-between.
Lee said Wednesday that Rodman's trips to North Korea have unfairly capitalized on Bae's plight to grab headlines.
"Rodman used Bae’s misfortune to elevate his eroding Hollywood brand. He took advantage of Bae’s setback to stage his own comeback," Lee wrote in a letter to the editor on the subject. "All the free press he received around the world would make Justin Bieber blush. And he is the only one laughing all the way to the bank while Bae’s family and friends — and the American people — are left heartbroken."
Here is Bobby Lee's letter on the topic:
Dennis Rodman tweeted to the world that he would step up and bring American citizen Kenneth Bae back home from a North Korean prison. Rodman claimed that Obama couldn’t do it. But he could. Then he folded like a cheap tent.
“Guess what? That’s not my job to ask about Bae,” an angry Rodman said to the media after smoking cigars with the North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. How nice.
What really happened? Rodman used Bae’s misfortune to elevate his eroding Hollywood brand. He took advantage of Bae’s setback to stage his own comeback. All the free press he received around the world would make Justin Bieber blush. And he is the only one laughing all the way to the bank while Bae’s family and friends—and the American people—are left heartbroken.
Rodman says he wants to introduce North Koreans to the world. North Koreans will take one look at him and ask, “what planet is this guy from?” We can’t think of a better argument for Kim Jung Un’s policies of complete isolation from the rest of the world than Dennis Rodman.
Rodman, there’s a real person’s life at stake. You’ve gone too far.
They call Rodman the Worm. Starting today, I ask the American people to start calling Rodman by his new nickname: Cheap Tent.
Bobby Lee, Portland, Oregon
Kenneth Bae’s Old College Buddy from University of Oregon