- (Photo: Screenshot via CNN)
Former NBA player Dennis Rodman apologized Monday for "the certain situations" currently going on in North Korea, saying he can't control what goes on in the country and that he's "not God." Rodman recently received criticism for comments he made regarding detained American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been imprisoned in the Asian country for over a year.
After spending a week in the communist country to celebrate leader Kim Jong Un's birthday by hosting a basketball game, Rodman told media at Beijing's International Airport on Monday that he is "sorry for what's going on in North Korea, the certain situations."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry I couldn't do anything," Rodman said. "It's not my fault. I'm sorry. I just want to do some good stuff, that's all I want to do." Rodman has defended his recent trips to North Korea as being a method of "basketball diplomacy," where former NBA players accompany Rodman to the Asian country to play basketball with the hopes of bridging differences between North Korean and western culture.
"I'm sorry for all the people and what's going on, I'm sorry," he continued. "I'm not the president, I'm not an ambassador, I'm just an individual that wants to show the world the fact that we can actually get along and be happy for one day."
Rodman went on to say: "I'm not God, I'm not [an] ambassador, I'm no one. I just want to show the world the fact that we can actually get along in sport. That is it!"
Rodman received criticism last week after he gave a boisterous interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo regarding imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae. The Christian missionary, who previously led tours from China to North Korea, was arrested last year and charged with allegedly attempting to overthrow the North Korea government through religious activities. He has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
The former NBA player became agitated last week when Cuomo asked him if he planned to discuss Bae's plight with North Korean leaders. Rodman went on to imply that perhaps Bae deserves his harsh punishment. "Kenneth Bae did one thing," Rodman said in the CNN interview. "If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? … I would love to speak on this."
Rodman's comments drew ire from Bae's family, with the missionary's sister, Terri Chung, saying the basketball pro had made "outrageous accusations" against her brother that were uninformed.
"It's one thing to play games with his own image, but this is not a game, this is a man's life," Chung told Q13 Fox News last week. "He has refused to help, that's his choice, but instead he has chosen to make these outrageous accusations that he clearly doesn't know anything about."
Rodman has since apologized for his comments, saying in an email to The Associated Press that he had been under pressure from organizing the basketball game in North Korea with former NBA players. He also said in the email that he had been drinking when he had his previous outburst on CNN.
Chung accepted Rodman's apology, saying that she thinks "it's good to see him recognize the gravity and the urgency of Ken's plight," adding, "It's nothing he can make light of or play games with."
Rodman has visited North Korea on multiple occasions to spend time with Kim, whom he has described as his "friend for life" and a "very good guy." The former NBA player has received criticism for his visits, mainly because North Korea is considered to be a major offender of human rights, where those who disobey the government's stance on religion or politics are placed into prison camps or executed. Just last month, Kim had his own uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed for allegedly being a traitor trying to overthrow the government. Before his execution, Jang was widely considered the second most powerful figure in the country.
During his most recent visit, Rodman organized a basketball game that included former NBA players Cliff Robinson and Charles Smith, among others. Rodman also serenaded Kim by singing him a portion of the birthday song before the game began in a packed auditorium in the country's capital of Pyongyang.
The White House, the NBA, and the State Department have all distanced themselves from Rodman's recent behavior and relationship with North Korea. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a recent press conference that Rodman did not contact the Obama administration before traveling to North Korea, and typically such travel would not be sanctioned by the U.S. government.