- Rodman calls visit a ‘basketball diplomacy tour’
- It’s unclear whether Rodman will push for the release of Kenneth Bae, an American jailed in North Korea
- Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for ‘crimes against the state.’ Bae is said to be in failing health
Dennis Rodman has embarked on another visit to North Korea, meeting dictator Kim Jong Un despite growing reports of a string of state executions in the secretive state.
The former basketball star returned to Beijing from a ‘diplomacy visit’ last night, amid reports that Kim had ordered the machine-gun execution of his former singer lover, Hyon Song-wol and 12 other entertainers on August 20 for appearing in an ‘sex tape’
Some of the musicians were also reported to have had Bibles, which are banned in North Korea, when they were detained and all were treated as political dissidents.
But there were doubts surrounding the images of his trip supplied by the North Korean propoganda machine as one featuring a disembodied hand appeared to be photoshopped.
It suggests that the hand of state censors may have been involved in altering the images, and the trip may not be all it seems.Some observers suggested an interpreter had been removed from a shot to make Kim Jong Un look better.
Scroll down for video
Rodman’s visit came after North Korea abruptly withdrew its invitation to Robert King, U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issue, who was expected to head to Pyongyang in a bid to secure the release American missionary Kenneth Bae.
Bae, 45, was sentenced to hard labor for 15 years in May for crimes against the state. He had been arrested in November after entering the North with a tour group and his health has been deteriorating since he was imprisoned.
Though there had been speculations that Rodman would free the detained American, he said his visit was for ‘another basketball diplomacy tour.’
Kim and Rodman spent quality time together by having dinner and watching a basketball game during Rodman’s five-day trip, the North’s KCNA news agency reported.
The report added Kim warmly welcomed Rodman and had a ‘cordial talk.’ Rodman reportedly expressed his thanks to the leader for spending time with him, saying Kim’s greeting is ‘an expression of good faith towards the Americans.’
Kim, the third of his line to rule North Korea, is a basketball fan and appeared to get along well with Rodman on the earlier visit, with the two of them pictured laughing, eating and drinking together and watching an all-star basketball match.
Rodman first visited Pyongyang earlier this year at a time when North Korea was threatening the United States, South Korea and Japan with missile strikes.