News / Asia

Rodman Apologizes for Comments on US Citizen Held in N. Korea

Dennis Rodman sings Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 8, 2014.
Dennis Rodman sings Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 8, 2014.
VOA News
Retired American basketball star Dennis Rodman, who is on a self-described "basketball diplomacy" trip to North Korea, has apologized for an incoherent, profanity-filled rant in which he appeared to blame a U.S. citizen for being held by Pyongyang.

In a statement through a publicist, Rodman said Thursday he takes "full responsibility" for his comments, which he said "embarrassed a lot of people." He said it had been a "stressful day" and he had been drinking before the live interview with CNN.

In the Tuesday interview, the 52-year-old Rodman seemed to imply that Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae deserved the sentence of 15 years hard labor given to him by the North. Puffing a cigar, Rodman asked the CNN anchor, "Do you understand what he did in this country?"

The comments received widespread criticism by Bae's family and others. His mother, Myunghee Bae, told VOA she was "disappointed" by Rodman's comments and said he should do more to push for his release.

"We hoped he could mention my son when he met with (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un. Because Rodman himself said he was a close friend of Kim. I was very disappointed at his comments and I could not believe he could say such a thing as an American citizen," she said.

Although Rodman has used Twitter to ask North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to release Bae, the eccentric former National Basketball Association All-Star has said he will not bring up politics during his time in the North.

Bae's family has not yet responded to Rodman's apology. But in an interview with VOA, Bae's longtime friend Bobby Lee questioned whether the statement was genuine.

"What would be more direct and encouraging if he went on camera himself and made his apology directly from himself to the public and to the family," Lee said. "It's just hard to gauge whether he really wrote that press release, or if it was done simply by the PR ((public relations)) folks."

Lee, who attended the University of Oregon with Bae, views Rodman's trip as motivated by financial and personal gains, noting his recent endorsement deals with several companies.

"He is on a Hollywood mission to elevate his own brand for his commercial contracts. And that's just what's ultimately so insulting is the fact that he's willing to surf this wave for himself and completely deny the fact that there are horrific things going on in North Korea," Lee said.

Rodman traveled to North Korea with a group of retired NBA players, who on Wednesday played a game of basketball to celebrate Mr. Kim's birthday, with the North Korean leader himself in attendance.

Rodman began the festivities at the packed Pyongyang auditorium by singing "Happy Birthday" to Mr. Kim, the head of a government accused of some of the world's worst rights abuses.

On a previous trip to Pyongyang, Rodman met personally with Mr. Kim, calling him a "good guy" and a "friend for life." He has defended his trip as an effort to "open the door" to North Korea.

State Department and White House officials have stressed that Rodman's trip to the impoverished and isolated country is unhelpful and not sanctioned by the U.S.

Rights groups say as many as 200,000 people are held in North Korea's vast and notorious system of prison camps, where inmates are said to be raped, murdered, and subject to forced manual labor.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid