News / Asia

Rodman Apologizes for Rant, Heads to N. Korean Ski Resort

FILE - Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman talks to the media at the Beijing International Airport.
FILE - Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman talks to the media at the Beijing International Airport.
Reuters
Retired U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman visited a North Korean ski resort on Thursday with dictator Kim Jong Un as a statement was issued on the former player's behalf apologizing for comments he made about an American jailed by Pyongyang.
 
A source with direct knowledge of Rodman's itinerary said the 52-year-old took a helicopter to a new multimillion dollar resort which is one of Kim's showcase projects and which has been condemned as a waste of money in a country where most people are malnourished.
 
The source declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
 
Rodman's visit to North Korea, his fourth, has drawn criticism from human rights activists and the family of imprisoned U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae after Rodman appeared to suggest in an interview peppered with obscenities that Bae, rather than the North Korean authorities, was responsible for his incarceration.
 
Rodman's public relations firm issued a statement attributed to the retired player apologizing for the comments and saying that he had been drinking on a stressful day.
 
It was not possible to verify with the company whether Rodman had seen the statement as it did not reply to email or telephone inquiries.
 
“I want to apologize, I take full responsibility,” Rodman was quoted by CNN as saying in the statement. “I embarrassed a lot of people. I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry.”
 
Bae's sister, Terri Chung, has said her family was outraged by Rodman's comments and that he should use his access to the North Korean leader to advocate on Bae's behalf, rather than “hurl outrageous accusations”.
 
“He is playing games with my brother's life,” Chung said in a statement.
 
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
x
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
Kenneth Bae being interviewed by Japanese pro-North Korea newspaper Choson Sinbo at North Korean labor camp, June 26, 2013.
Bae, 45, was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for state subversion in North Korea, where he was detained in 2012 while  leading a tour group. The Supreme Court said he used his tourism business to form groups aimed at overthrowing the government.
 
On Wednesday, Rodman led a chorus  singing “Happy Birthday” to the leader of the isolated and heavily sanctioned country at a basketball match that Kim attended with his wife.

Related video clip: Dennis Rodman Sings "Happy Birthday" to Kim Jong Un
 
Rodman Sings Happy Birthday to N. Korea's Kim Jong Uni
X
January 08, 2014 2:57 PM
Retired U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman led North Koreans in singing "Happy Birthday" to the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, before a planned basketball game Wednesday in Pyongyang.

North Korean state media said the song was “reflecting [Rodman's] reverence” for Kim Jong Un, and that he had organized the game as a gift for his birthday, confirming for the first time the leader's date of birth. He is believed to be 31.
 
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, dedicated its front page to coverage of the basketball game and published photos of Kim sitting and laughing with Rodman.
 
“Dennis Rodman said he was overjoyed and teared up when he met the Dear Respected Marshal again,” the newspaper said.
 
Starved, beaten, amused
 
The fading basketball star's trips had been financed by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, although it has now withdrawn its funding.
 
It is not known whether Rodman has the capacity to fund another trip. North Korea rarely pays for this kind of visit, according to experts on the country.
 
Rodman has described Kim, who has been in power for just over two years as his “friend.”
 
Kim has presided over two long range rocket launches - banned under U.N. sanctions due to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and proliferation efforts - a nuclear test and last year threatened to attack South Korea, Japan and the United States.
 
People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2013.People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2013.
x
People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2013.
People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2013.
Last month, his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was executed in one of the biggest and most public purges undertaken in North Korea, which has been ruled by the same family for three generations.
 
Jang is just one of hundreds of thousands North Koreans who have faced death or imprisonment in the North. An estimated 150,000-200,000 people are in political prisons and forced labor camps, according to rights activists.
 
Defectors have testified to summary executions and rampant human rights abuses on North Korea. They say they were starved, beaten and abused in work camps where many die and that babies born in the camps were killed.
 
While North Koreans suffer from food shortages and malnutrition, according to U.N. assessments, Kim has pushed ahead with big building projects such as the Masik Ski Resort that Rodman visited.
 
South Korean officials estimate it cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and North Korea aims to make $43.75 million in annual profit from the resort, according to documents prepared for potential foreign investors. It expects up to 5,000 skiers to visit per day.
 
Pictures released at the resort opening late last year showed just one chair lift and an assortment of snow equipment that appeared to have been imported despite a U.N. ban on the export of “luxury” goods to the North.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: August West from: Earth
January 13, 2014 4:42 AM
Its kinda BS that Rodman is getting grief and the blame for Bae's imprisonment now. He is not a US Diplomat or US Government Official. He is there as representative in the name of sport and basketball. Not prison negotiations and politics. Rodman just got sick of everyone asking and pestering him about it. He may have made things worse for Bae if he got involved. When the Olympics were in Germany during Hitlers reign were the athletes expected to negotiate with Hitler to quit killing all the Jews?

by: Justin from: United States
January 09, 2014 11:05 PM
I'm so excited about the ski resort. I'm definitely going to ski there. What a great way to help the so called impoverished country than by sending tourist dollars their way.

by: Jerry Frey from: USA+
January 09, 2014 12:01 PM
"In the North’s version of events, however, there was neither a draw nor a North Korean invasion. North Korean textbooks say the war — known as the Fatherland Liberation War — was started by “U.S. imperialists” who wanted to dominate Asia."

Rodman has always been a cartoon; now he's just a fool and a propaganda tool....http://napoleonlive.info/see-the-evidence/facts-about-north-korea-2/"

by: blah from: blan
January 09, 2014 9:33 AM
Rodong Sinmun - North Korean for 'Rodman is my son"

by: Stephen Real
January 09, 2014 9:21 AM
as long as the angry people don't mess things up
the only asset the US has in North Korea is Dennis Rodman.
but then again...many people misunderstand all that they see
which is to the USA's advantage.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs