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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid