HONG KONG -- The former basketball star Dennis Rodman left North Korea on Saturday after visiting with the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, and unleashed an expletive-laced tirade while rejecting calls that he push for the release of an American missionary who has been detained by North Korea since late last year.
The trip was Mr. Rodman's second to see Mr. Kim, whom he has called a friend. In May, Mr. Rodman had asked on Twitter for Mr. Kim to "do me a solid" and release the missionary. He also had said he planned to return to the North to try to gain the man's release, according to a video posted on the celebrity news Web site TMZ.
Mr. Rodman was met Saturday by reporters at the airport in Beijing after arriving from North Korea and was asked about using his influence with Mr. Kim to urge the release of the American, Kenneth Bae, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in a labor camp after being arrested while in the country where he has done Christian missionary work.
"Guess what? That's not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae," Mr. Rodman said, according to The Associated Press. Then, referring to President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, he added, "Ask Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton." Then he criticized the two with an expletive.
American officials have been working recently to obtain the release of Mr. Bae as tensions have eased between the countries. North Korea is believed to be using Mr. Bae as a potential bargaining chip, but North Korea rescinded its invitation to Robert King, a senior American diplomat who had been planning to travel to the country last weekend to try to secure Mr. Bae's release.
Mr. Rodman has developed a relationship with Mr. Kim, whose government just months ago called for the nuclear annihilation of the United States if North Korea was threatened and has a record of egregious human rights abuses.
Mr. Rodman defended his friendship with Mr. Kim on Saturday. "He's my friend for life," he said. "I don't care what you guys think about him," emphasizing his point with an expletive.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.