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"I'm sorry for what's going on in North Korea," Rodman tells CNN
He stirred controversy last week by singing "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Dennis Rodman is apologizing. Again.
Now, Rodman says he’s sorry about what’s going on inside North Korea, a nation renowned for its human rights abuses.
But the eccentric former NBA star known as “The Worm” isn’t contrite about his latest puzzling visit to the secretive state.
He said he did nothing wrong by organizing a basketball game last week at a packed stadium in Pyongyang, an event at which he sang “Happy Birthday” to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I’m sorry for what’s going on in North Korea, the certain situations,” Rodman told CNN on Monday after arriving at Beijing International Airport from Pyongyang.
He didn’t say exactly what those “situations” are. He may have been referring to the reports of horrific human rights abuses by his friend Kim’s regime, or to the estimated 200,000 people kept in political prison camps.
Or maybe he was talking about Kenneth Bae, the U.S. citizen sentenced last year to 15 years of hard labor by North Korea on accusations that he planned to bring down the government through religious activities.
He was certainly less boisterous than when he spoke to CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week. In that interview, he appeared to suggest that Bae may have done something to deserve his heavy sentence.
After his on-air rant drew criticism from Bae’s family and others, Rodman apologized, saying he’d been drinking and was under stress.
In Beijing on Monday, returning from a week-long visit to North Korea, he struck a more humble tone.
“I’m not God, I’m not (an) ambassador, I’m no one,” he said. “I just want to show the world the fact that we can actually get along in sport. That is it!”
Rodman later flew back to the United States, landing at Newark, New Jersey, Monday evening. He left the airport there without talking to reporters.
‘I love America’
Rodman has described Kim, whose once-powerful uncle was recently purged and executed, as a friend and a “very good guy.”
He said he was happy that by playing basketball with and in front of North Koreans – an approach dubbed “basketball diplomacy” – he and the other former NBA players who accompanied him had tried to “do something good for the world.”
But Rodman said he was sad that “everyone is trying to break this down, to push it on me.”