News

Rodman: North Korea visit could ‘open door’

Rodman: North Korea visit could ‘open door’

RODMAN THE DIPLOMAT: Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman (C) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport to leave for Pyongyang, in Beijing, Jan. 6. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) – American basketball star Dennis Rodman defended his latest visit to North Korea in an interview with CNN on Tuesday, saying it would help “open the door” to the reclusive state.

Rodman, speaking during his fourth trip to the country, expressed “love” for leader Kim Jong-un and claimed his controversial trip was a “great idea for the world”.

Rodman and a team of fellow former National Basketball Association stars will hold basketball games in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to mark Kim’s birthday, which is believed to fall on Wednesday, though this has never been officially confirmed.

PHOTOS: Dennis Rodman through the years

The games come just weeks after Kim’s powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek was purged and executed. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has described recent events in North Korea as a “reign of terror.”

During the interview, the former NBA star also appeared to question the activities of Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been held in North Korea on charges of crimes against the state since May last year.

“If you understand what Kenneth Bae did …. Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive in this country?” Rodman said.

Rodman has faced both ridicule and harsh criticism from some quarters for his trips, which some U.S. politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for propaganda efforts by the North Korean regime.

“This is not about me. If I can open the door a little bit, just a little bit,” Rodman said. “It’s all about the game. People love to do one thing – sports.”

EXTRA: A Tumblr account dedicated to pictures of Kim Jong-un looking at things

He also lamented the criticism his visits have drawn.

“It’s amazing how we thrive on negativity. Does anyone know this guy’s only 31-years-old?” he said of Kim, whom he calls his friend.

“Dennis, he could be 31, he could be 51,” said CNN interviewer Chris Cuomo. “He’s just killed his uncle. He’s holding an American hostage.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington and David Stanway in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Recent Headlines

in Music

Justin Bieber’s carpool karaoke

Fresh
11-overlay5

The "Baby" hitmaker joins "The Late Late Show" host James Corden in a carpool through Los Angeles.

in Entertainment

Reality TV star Josh Duggar accused of molesting young girls

Fresh
joshduggar

Josh Duggar, the eldest child on "19 Kids And Counting," allegedly has a history of sexually assaulting and "forcibly fondling" young girls.

in Entertainment

Red Nose Day raises millions for charity

Fresh
21-overlay6

A star-studded few hours filled with funny red noses helped raise millions for children's charities.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘Game of Thrones: The Musical’

Fresh
15-overlay6

Coldplay teams up with the cast of "Game of Thrones" for a hilarious musical version of the hit HBO show to help raise money for Red Nose Day.

in Entertainment

The Rock breaks selfie record

therock

The wrestler-turned-actor set a new world record for most selfies taken in three minutes.

Weather

condition Condition: Partly Cloudy
Temperature: 57°
High: 70° - Low: 38°