News / Asia

Rodman Won't Discuss Politics in North Korea

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, center, arrives at the capital airport for a flight to North Korea, in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, center, arrives at the capital airport for a flight to North Korea, in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.
VOA News
Retired U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman is in North Korea for his third visit in recent months, but says he will not raise political issues with the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

Rodman's visit comes at another tense moment in Pyongyang, just days after the shocking execution of Kim's uncle, mentor and second in command, who was accused of trying to overthrow the state.

Speaking to Reuters at a Beijing hotel before departing for the North, Rodman said the execution of Jang Song Thaek had nothing to do with his visit, which he said was purely for "fun."

"I have no control over that. I mean, these things have been going on for years and years," he said. "I mean, whoever is going to be a political insider over there, from America or somewhere else in the world, [who] wants to come over there and try to get a hold of it, great. But I'm just over there to do a basketball game and have some fun."

The five-time National Basketball Association champion is expected to help train North Korea's national basketball team during his trip, which is sponsored by the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.

During past visits, the eccentric Rodman has held extended personal meetings with Mr. Kim, who he has called a "friend for life" and a "good guy." He is thought to be the highest-profile American to have met the North Korean leader.

The 52-year-old said Thursday he is open to talking about political issues, appearing to refer to imprisoned Korean-American Kenneth Bae, but only if Kim brings it up.

"If it doesn't happen, I just can't bring it up, because I don't want him to think that I'm over here trying to be an ambassador and trying to use him as being his friend, and then all of a sudden I'm starting talking about politics. It's just not going to be that way," he said.

The U.S. State Department this week again distanced itself from Rodman's activities in North Korea, saying he does not represent the U.S. government in any way.

Rodman has said he hopes his trips can help convince President Barack Obama to engage with North Korean leaders, who last year spent weeks threatening a nuclear attack against American targets.

The basketball star has been criticized by many for refusing to bring up human rights abuses with the North Korean government, which is considered by many to be the most oppressive in the world.
  • Dennis Rodman speaks to the media after returning from his trip to North Korea at Beijing airport, China, Dec. 23, 2013. 
  • Dennis Rodman poses for pictures with North Korean basketball players and government officials during a practice session in Pyongyang, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • Dennis Rodman plays one-on-one with a North Korean player during a basketball practice session in Pyongyang, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • Dennis Rodman disembarks from a flight from Beijing as he and his entourage arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang, Dec. 19, 2013. 
  • Dennis Rodman walks with Vice Minister of North Korea's Sports Ministry, Son Kwang Ho, as Rodman arrives at the international airport in Pyongyang, Dec. 19, 2013.
  • Dennis Rodman arrives at the capital airport in Beijing, on his way to North Korea, Dec. 19, 2013. 

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs