Dennis Rodman defended his controversial visit to North Korea with a group of former NBA players during a combative exchange Tuesday with interviewer Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day.”
Rodman’s latest trip to North Korea took place just weeks after the country announced the execution of the once-powerful uncle of Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader.
The former NBA player, who called the trip a “great idea for the world,” became angry when pressed by Cuomo about whether the group should have traveled to North Korea given recent events that transpired there.
“I’m going to tell you one thing,” Rodman said on CNN. “People around the world, around the world. I’m going to do one thing. You’re the guy behind the mic right now. We’re the guys here doing one thing. We have to go back to America and take the abuse. Do you have to take the abuse we’re going to take?”
In addition to the reported execution of Kim’s uncle, there were also concerns over the welfare of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen who has been detained for more than a year for unknown crimes, according to CNN.
When asked about Bea, Rodman suggested it was the American who had done something wrong, though he would not provide Cuomo with specifics.
“Kenneth Bae did one thing. … If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country?” Rodman asked Cuomo during the interview. “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.
“You know, you’ve got 10 guys here, 10 guys here, they’ve left their families, they’ve left their damn families, to help this country, as in a sports venture. That’s 10 guys, all these guys here, do anyone understand that? Christmas, New Year’s,” Rodman added.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what the hell you think. I’m saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them … they dared to do one thing, they came here,” he said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney addressed Rodman’s statements following the interview, saying he wouldn’t “dignify that outburst with a response.” He said he had heard about some of Rodman’s comments, but hadn’t seen the actual interview.
Carney added that Rodman was on a private trip. He said that the White House, which had called for Bae’s release, had not changed its views regarding Bae.
Rodman and the other ex-NBA players were in North Korea to participate in a basketball game on Wednesday for Kim Jong Un’s birthday, CNN reported. It was believed that the country’s leader will turn 31 that day.
This was Rodman’s fourth visit to North Korea.
CNN contributed to this report.