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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora