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 Sports

AP Source: Pacers sign Monta Ellis; Duncan will return & other NBA free agency news

Dallas Mavericks point guard Monta Ellis warms up in front of an advertisement paid for by The Indiana Economic Development Corp. before an NBA preseason basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. The IEDC has signed a deal with the Pacers for sponsoring the basketball court inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Ellis has agreed to terms with the Pacers on a four-year deal worth $44 million and other NBA free agency news.

in Sports

Rangers’ Martin St. Louis announces retirement

In this March 4, 2015, file photo, New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) shoots against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis is retiring after 16 NHL seasons, seven All Star selections and one Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. St. Louis made the announcement Thursday, July 2, 2015, roughly a month after helping the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to the Lightning in seven games. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The 40-year-old St. Louis was uncertain whether he would return for another season after the Rangers were eliminated, but it was clear that New York was not going to bring him back.

in Entertainment

Filmmakers bet on ‘Monopoly’ movie

monopoly

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — “Monopoly” is going Hollywood. Lionsgate says it will turn the classic board game into a…

in Sports

Wimbledon: Nadal stunned by Dustin Brown in 2nd round

Dustin Brown of Germany, gestures after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain, during their singles match, at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Dustin Brown, a German of Jamaican heritage with a clever touch and a throwback serve-and-volley game, beat Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court on Thursday.

in Music

‘The Boss’ joins a Beach Boy onstage

14-overlay2

East met West as the Jersey Shore musician jammed with California legend Brian Wilson.

Bellingham Traffic