[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Rodman apologises for North Korea outburst

The former NBA star issues an apology for TV outburst, saying he had "been drinking" before interview.

Last updated: 09 Jan 2014 11:06
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Rodman's trip, his fourth in 12 months, to North Korea has courted controversy [EPA]

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has apologised for his televised outburst about a US missionary detained in North Korea, explaining that he had been stressed and drinking at the time.

Rodman was roundly criticised for his angry tirade in an interview with CNN, in which he appeared to suggest that the missionary, Kenneth Bae, had merited the prison sentence of 15 years handed down last year.

"I want to first apologise to Kenneth Bae's family," Rodman said in a statement released on Thursday by his publicist and cited by CNN.

Dennis Rodman could do a lot of good by advocating for Kenneth to Kim Jong-Un, but instead he has decided to hurl outrageous accusations at my brother.

Terri Chung, Sister of US missionary Kenneth Bae, who is detained in North Korea

"I embarrassed a lot of people," said Rodman, who was in the North Korean capital for an exhibition basketball match he had organised to mark the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

"I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry."

Rodman's trip to North Korea along with a handful of other former NBA players has courted controversy, with accusations of pandering to a totalitarian regime with a terrible record on human rights.

At the exhibition match on Wednesday, Rodman had sung Happy Birthday to his "best friend" Kim who was watching the game in a packed Pyongyang auditorium.

Tourists who attended the game said Rodman's performance was akin to Hollywood sex symbol Marilyn Monroe famously serenading John F Kennedy with a sultry version of the same song at a Democratic Party fundraising soirée in 1962.

"It was a little Marilyn Monroe to JFK, the tone of it," American college student Sophia Sokmensuer told reporters on Thursday at Beijing airport.

"It was kind of Marilyn Monroe-ish," agreed Hakan Sokmensuer, Sophia's father.

"It started very slowly 'Happy...' and he put his arms up. And the Koreans had no idea," he told AFP.

"And at about 'Happy Birthday to you.....,' maybe one verse into it, they started to do a very good unison clap," he added.

It was Rodman's fourth trip to North Korea in 12 months and he has been criticised for failing to raise human rights issues or the plight of Bae, whose family voiced disgust at his television interview.

"Dennis Rodman could do a lot of good by advocating for Kenneth to Kim Jong-Un, but instead he has decided to hurl outrageous accusations at my brother," said Bae's sister Terri Chung.

"He is playing games with my brother's life," she added.

Fall of basketball diplomacy

In his statement Rodman said the day of the CNN interview had been "very stressful".

"Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates," he said, adding that his dream of "basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart".

"I had been drinking," he said. "It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed."

Bae, a 45-year-old tour operator, was arrested in November 2012 as he entered the northeastern North Korean port city of Rason.

North Korea described Bae as a Christian evangelist who smuggled inflammatory material into the country and sentenced him to 15 year's of hard labour for allegedly seeking to topple the government.

574

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.