Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has apologized for yesterday’s outburst in which he refused to defend Kenneth Bae, an American citizen currently in detention in North Korea.
Associated Press received an email from Rodman explaining, “I want to apologize. I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart [sic]. I had been drinking. It’s not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth.”
Rodman made his initial comments at a press conference in Pyongyang alongside a group of former NBA stars. The group travelled to the North Korean capital to take part in a basketball match with a North Korean team in commemoration of the January 8th birthday of Kim Jong Eun.
Rodman lashed out at CNN anchor Chris Cuomo when the issue of Kenneth Bae was brought up. Cuomo tried to get Rodman to speak on behalf of Bae, but Rodman responded aggressively, declaring, “Do you understand what he did in this country?” before adding, “No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why?”
Rodman went on to declare that he was in North Korea to make progress through cultural exchange, and toward the end of the interview implied that his work would allow the “door to open” in future.
However, in a separate interview, Anderson Cooper interviewed Kenneth Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, who revealed that the Bae family had been “shocked” and “outraged” by Rodman’s outburst. “He was in a position to do some good and to help advocate for Kenneth,” Chung said. “He refused to do so. But then instead he has chosen to hurl these outrageous accusations against Kenneth.”
Rodman is the highest profile American to meet Kim Jong Eun thus far in the latter’s short reign. Prior to yesterday’s match, he offered up a stilted rendition of “Happy Birthday” for the North Korean leader, followed by a small bow. Kim was in the crowd with wife Ri Sol Ju and a number of other members of the North Korean ruling elite.
Inside sources in North Korea revealed to Daily NK yesterday that a select group of Chinese businessmen and Workers’ Party cadres was also present, having been invited to visit the capital to celebrate Kim’s birthday.
Daily North Korea