Former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman said he was responsible for gaining the release of two Americans held in North Korea. TMZ reported Saturday it had obtained a copy of a letter in which the former NBA star begged for the release of Kenneth Bae.
The letter, addressed to "Marshall Kim Jong Un," says Bae's release would "show my country how loving and compassionate you and DPRK [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea] is. I ask for your mercy to prisoner Kenneth Bae and would be eternally grateful for his safe return and make a big step towards bridging the gap between our two nations." The letter is signed "Your Friends for Life, Dennis Keith Rodman [and] Christopher Volo."
"No doubt, our trips helped influence Kenneth Bae's release and I'm happy he is coming home safely," Rodman told TMZ.
Bae and Matthew Todd Miller were released Saturday. Bae, a missionary who had been held since 2012, had been serving a 12-year prison term for anti-government activities. Miller, a tourist, was detained in April and sentenced to six years after demanding asylum after ripping up his passport.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went to Pyongyang as President Barack Obama's envoy, but a State Department official said no exchange was made for the release of the two Americans and the release does not affect U.S.-North Korean relations.
Rodman visited North Korea last year and staged a four-day basketball training camp at the Masikryong Ski Resort. In his letter, Rodman hinted the prisoners' release could enable him to make another visit.