Accessibility links

Breaking News

Summit Visitor: Former US Basketball Player Dennis Rodman, a Kim Jong Un Friend


Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Singapore's Changi Airport, June 12, 2018.

Former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman said Tuesday he is happy to see a summit take place between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In an interview with CNN, Rodman said he wants to see the two countries get along, and that Trump should "take a lot of credit because he went out of the box."

Rodman, who has traveled to North Korea five times to visit Kim, broke down in tears at one point in the interview when describing how he faced death threats after returning from one of those trips.

The 57-year-old arrived Monday in Singapore, the site of the Trump-Kim summit. He wore a T-shirt that said, "Peace Starts in Singapore," along with the logo for a cryptocurrency for the legalized marijuana industry that has paid for at least one of his trips to North Korea.

Rodman, a five-time champion in the National Basketball Association, is 20 years removed from his playing days. But he has stayed in the spotlight with his frequent trips to North Korea, which the U.S. State Department has distanced itself from over the years. Rodman's visits occurred long before Trump and Kim traded belligerent taunts, and before they decided to hold a summit over the North's nuclear weapons program.

Rodman said he was not sure if he would meet up with Kim on the sidelines of the summit.

"I got to say, you know, it's up in the air right now," he said. "He's got bigger things to worry about than seeing me right now. Trying to make this conference something more, a good gateway. Like I said, every time I see him, it's always a surprise. So, maybe tomorrow is the same thing. So far, let's see how tomorrow ends."

Rodman predicted the summit "should go fairly well, but people should not expect so much for the first time. Like I said, the doors are open."

He said that with the taunts Trump and Kim traded last year, "it could have been a disaster. ... Trump could have said something different. Kim Jong Un could have said something different. But I think that it's fair to say that both of them will see what this meeting is going to do."

Rodman, who in 2013 took former pro basketball players with him to North Korea, has said he visited the country with good intentions, to "break the ice between hostile countries."