Dennis Rodman, in North Korea for a basketball game honoring the country’s supreme leader, became angry and defensive in a rambling response to an American interviewer’s questions about whether the athlete would “speak up” for a U.S. citizen imprisoned in the reclusive country.
Rodman, who is leading a delegation of former NBA players for an exhibition match against the North Korean national team, appeared to suggest that North Korean authorities were right to detain Kenneth Bae, a missionary from California jailed in 2013.
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asked Rodman, via satellite, if when meeting Kim Jong-un, the country’s 30-year-old dictator, whether he would “speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae?”
“The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did,” said Rodman. “Do you understand what he did? In this country?”
The North Koreans accuse Bae of “hostile acts” and attempting to foment a coup.
In an interview that became increasingly contentious and bizarre, Rodman shrieked at Cuomo, “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the hell you think.”
The basketball game was paid for by British gambling site PaddyPower, but the company has since removed its name from the event. The game coincides with Kim’s birthday.