Despite his decidedly non-governmental look and unusual diplomatic style, former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman has gotten more access to North Korea’s dictator than any other American.
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ABC News recently sat down with Rodman to talk about his unique relationship with perhaps the most mysterious leader in the world, Kim Jong Un.
This past week, Rodman was on what he called a “humanitarian” tour of Asia, first in Guam pitching his proposal for a goodwill basketball game between North Korea and the U.S. territory, which Kim once threatened with a missile attack. The unlikely international diplomat was also recently in Beijing promoting talks between Kim and President Trump, whom Rodman knew as a one-time contestant on “The Apprentice.”
During our interview in New York City, the towering 6-foot-7 former Chicago Bulls star was wearing his trademark sunglasses and a potcoin.com shirt, the company sponsoring his recent overseas trips. Potcoin is a crypto currency that can be used to buy legal marijuana. Five times Rodman has traveled to North Korea and three times has he met with the leader who has been a huge Chicago Bulls fan since he was a little kid.
Perhaps it is ironic that the dictator of North Korea, who publically condemns America, just loves Frank Sinatra. According to Dennis Rodman, Kim Jong Un picked “My Way” on his Karaoke to sing it in Korean.
"He's pretty good," Rodman said. “He had his girl band, 14 girls that travel with him everywhere to play his music... he was singing it in North Korean. There was like 70 people at this big round table, I’m like, 'Wow.' Everybody had their turn, had a shot of vodka, took a vodka shot and then try to sing karaoke.’”
Rodman also provided more inside details about his discussions with the leader of North Korea, including his language talents, horse riding abilities and basketball skills.
“Every time you see us talking like this, We are talking about basketball,” Rodman said. “One time, he said, ‘Dennis, I would love to go to New York, to Madison Square Garden. He says, ‘I’d love to go to New York, but I can’t...’ He says stuff like that.”
Rodman has refused to discuss politics and had nothing to say about starvation and executions within North Korea. But he did tell us about some more personal impressions of the elusive North Korean leader. As journalists we have been trying to get an interview with Kim Jong Un ever since he took power in 2011 but so far he has refused. So as of now Dennis Rodman has become, unexpectedly, one of our very best sources into what makes Kim Jong Un tick.
“He’s always smiling, man... He’s always smiling with his people, his sister, his brother,” Rodman said. “His family is so at ease when they’re around each other. Just like regular people.”