Dennis Rodman defended his visit to North Korea and refused to comment on the detention of Kenneth Bae in a heated interview live from Pyongyang on Tuesday.
During the live interview with CNN’s New Day programme, the former NBA star angrily condemned the media’s largely negative coverage of his visit, telling anchor Chris Cuomo “I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think.”
Rodman also appeared reluctant to comment on the continued detention of American missionary Kenneth Bae, instead asking Cuomo, “Do you understand what [Ken Bae] did in this country? You tell me! Why is he held captive?”
Denis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang with a delegation of retired NBA players on Monday and will take part in a basketball game against North Korea’s national team on Wednesday to celebrate Kim Jong Un’s 31st birthday.
But despite Rodman’s celebratory intentions, his visit has drawn heavy criticism from those concerned with human rights issues in North Korea.
Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, told NK News on Monday that Rodman’s visit to North Korea could help Kim Jong Un consolidate his power in the aftermath of the Jang Song Thaek purge.
Scarlatoiu said that despite Rodman’s claims that his visit to North Korea was not about politics, playing for Kim Jong Un “is as political an act as it gets in North Korea”.
“This is meant to reinforce Kim Jong-un’s cult of personality”, he argued, “in particular in the midst of a purge and just a few weeks after the execution of his uncle”.
Rodman’s role as a “diplomatic facilitator”, is misguided, Scarlatiou claimed: “They have seasoned diplomats who have been doing this for decades, and know full well how to go through appropriate diplomatic channels, if they are serious about dialogue”.
Growing criticism led Irish betting giant Paddy Power to pull out of sponsoring the trip on Christmas eve, citing “changed circumstances”, but NK News has learnt that Paddy Power will still pay for the basketball diplomacy to take place due to “contractual obligations” with Rodman’s camp.
Responding to a Sky News journalist who said that Rodman had a responsibility to raise the issue of human rights abuses during his trip, the former NBA star on Monday said that it was not his job.
“The only thing I am doing right now, I am only doing one thing: this game is for his birthday. It’s for his birthday.”
Picture: Korea Central TV
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