Dennis Rodman plans to visit North Korea for an exhibition basketball tour late next month.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Dennis Rodman said he’ll be accompanied on the trip by a dozen or so former NBA players. But he refused to name names.
“I have seven people right now,” he said.
“I talked to a couple of guys last week. Lot of guys are saying, <<OK, great. I’ll go. We’ll go>>. But I’m not saying this to get people to go over there to prove a point — <<OK, great, let’s go over there and make a difference.>>”
Back in the news as a self-appointed ambassador and friend of Kim Jong-un, Dennis Rodman returned Thursday to where he won the last three of his five NBA championships playing alongside Michael Jordan. On a promotional tour to pitch a vodka brand, Dennis Rodman held court downtown amid camera flashes.
Dennis Rodman, 52, said he wouldn’t talk about his relationship with Kim Jong-un or North Korean politics, including its widely condemned human-rights record and secretive nuclear weapons program. Though he eventually touched on those subjects, Dennis Rodman glossed over several related questions and largely ignored a challenge to his answer about whether North Korea was holding US citizens as hostages, including 85-year-old Korean War veteran Merrill Newman.
The Swedish Embassy is negotiating on behalf of Newman because the US has no diplomatic ties to North Korea. Dennis Rodman’s friendship with Kim Jong-un has afforded him the kind of access denied statesmen from the West and even President Barack Obama.
Dennis Rodman came under criticism for being “naive” during a previous visit to North Korea, where he was photographed often with Kim Jong-un, and some members of the diplomatic community fear his antics could further aggravate already-sensitive negotiations.
He said his reasons for returning to North Korea were much more personal and beyond that, Kim Jong-un’s motives were not his concern.
“Like I told you, this is not all about trying to create this major buzz,” Dennis Rodman said.
“Because I don’t want my friend to sit there and say I been doing this all along to slip in some information on him. I don’t want that. That’s why I’m not doing that. We’re friends and that’s it.
“This ain’t about me trying to be a politician and try to get some scoop on him and stuff like that. … He’s my friend first. Other than that, I don’t give a damn what … he does.”
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