Dennis Rodman: ‘I’m Not a Traitor’

Former NBA star invites CNN reporter to sing karaoke with Kim Jong Un

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Kyodo / Reuters

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman (L) arrives at Pyongyang airport in Pyongyang, in this photo released by Kyodo Jan. 6, 2014

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman offered a sort-of apology for his antics during recent trips to North Korea on Friday, in a wide-ranging CNN interview conducted in the rehab facility where he’s being treated for alcohol abuse.

“I don’t go to the camps, I don’t do anything,” Rodman said of his visits to the isolated country. “I’m not a traitor.”

The interview came after Rodman’s last interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo raised eyebrows and even outrage when Rodman angrily defended his “friend,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and suggested an American imprisoned there may have been detained justifiably (he later apologized for the latter remark).

Rodman, speaking with Cuomo more calmly this time, expressed remorse about how his drinking has affected his family.

“The one thing I regret: that I haven’t been a great dad. I’ve been an awful dad,” he said. “There’s a lot of steps I have to take before I die and this is one of the steps, to show my kids that I’m not a deadbeat dad.”

When pressed by Cuomo to explain his decision to travel to North Korea and call that country’s young, new dictator a “good guy,” Rodman defended his trip while seeking to distance himself from the country’s woeful human rights record. “I said that from day one,” he said. “I’m not an ambassador. I’m not a diplomat.”

Addressing issue of Kenneth Bae, an American currently imprisoned in North Korea, Rodman said: “Like I said, I’m not in government, I don’t know how that works. But, dealing with the Bae family, like I said, I feel for them, I feel for them deeply. Like I said, I would do anything, I would do anything, this is Dennis Rodman talking. If they said we’ll take Dennis Rodman and we’ll let Kenneth Bae go. I’ll say, ‘You know what? I’ll do that. Straight ahead. I’ll do it. Take me.'”

Rodman stood by his characterization of Kim Jong Un as his friend.

“I don’t know the ‘Marshall’ as a dictator,” Rodman said. “All I know is the fact that with him, he’s a 31 year old guy, I call him a kid. And yeah he’s my friend.”

Rodman invited Cuomo to come to North Korea to “sit down and have dinner with [Kim], and sing karaoke.”