The HillTube

Rodman defends North Korea interview

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman on Friday defended his trips to North Korea and an interview he gave with CNN in which he appeared to defend the imprisonment in that country of Kenneth Bae.

Rodman said it was unfair for CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview earlier this month to ask about Bae while Rodman "wasn't in the state to properly answer that question."

ADVERTISEMENT
Rodman had exploded at Cuomo's questions, and implied North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had good reason to hold Bae captive. 

Rodman said doesn't think of the North Korean leader as a dictator, but rather a "31-year-old kid" who is his friend. 

"He gave me the opportunity to bring a basketball team to North Korea to show the world that we could get along," Rodman said. "It wasn't my assignment to come over and say, 'Hey, King Jong Un, why are you such a bad guy?' That's not my job."

Rodman, who has been in treatment since returning from North Korea this year, suggested his behavior in the first interview was fueled by drinking. 

He said Friday that he did party and consume alcohol during his time in North Korea, but did not say whether he was drunk during the initial exchange. 

Instead, Rodman asserted that he was enraged at Cuomo because he should have known that it was "unfair" to ask him questions about Bae or his friendship with the North Korea leader because his trip to the country was supposed to focus on basketball diplomacy.

Cuomo directly asked Rodman if he was drunk during the initial interview, but Rodman essentially sidestepped the question, although he visibly slurred his words in the January interview.

"When I was in North Korea, we had a lot of drinks," Rodman admitted to Cuomo while at a rehab center for alcohol addiction. "But it wasn't about me being in the right mind. When a certain person asked me a question when they're supposed not to ask me that question at that particular time, knowing that I wasn't in the state to properly answer that question, it was unfair.

"If you wanted a story Chris, you could have asked me first," Rodman said. "That would have been the proper thing to do."

Cuomo told Rodman that it was necessary for him to ask the questions he did because it was "obvious" that people are curious about his friendship with the North Korean leader, who people widely believe is one of the most dangerous leaders in the world.

Cuomo asked Romdan if he had any regret for traveling to North Korea or for his behavior during the interview, but again, Rodman sidestepped the questions. Rodman said he will hold a press conference next week to answer those inquiries.