White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the North Korean regime should focus on improving the lives of its own people rather than hosting "celebrity sporting events" after former NBA star Dennis Rodman returned from a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.
"Instead of spending money on celebrity sporting events to entertain the elites of that country, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people who have been starved, imprisoned, and denied their human rights," Carney said.
"The United States has direct channels of communications with the DRPK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] and those are the channels we choose to employ," Carney told reporters.
Rodman traveled to North Korea with the Harlem Globetrotters as part of an HBO documentary series. He met with Kim at a basketball game and attended a party at the dictator's palace.
The visit takes place less than a month after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, drawing a strong rebuke from the United States and South Korea. The Obama administration has threatened additional sanctions against the country following the test.
On Monday, Carney again reiterated the administration's position that "North Korea's actions directly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, and threaten international peace and security."
"We have urged the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama's call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations," Carney said.
In his interview this weekend, Rodman described Kim as "awesome and honest" and "a great guy," saying the North Korean leader wanted to avoid a military conflict.
“Kim loves basketball. Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there," Rodman said.