Two months after taking a highly controversial and much-touted trip to North Korea, former NBA player Dennis Rodman (pictured right) offered a tearful apology on ESPN for his misplaced goodwill toward the totalitarian and Stalinist country, according to ESPN.
Government officials in North Korea, whose official name is the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, describe the country as having a socialist government but it is widely viewed as a dictatorship by ruling clan the Kim family.
Rodman’s association with the world’s “most-militarized society” began in February of last year, when he visited the nation to host basketball exhibitions. Rodman and his team were the first Americans to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (pictured left). Soon after, the two men struck up a friendship, with Rodman publicly stating that he had a “friend for life.” The baller even suggested to President Barack Obama that he pick up the phone to chat with Jong-un as they each had an affinity for basketball.
The basketball superstar then requested via Twitter that Jong-un should release the American Christian missionary and tour operator prisoner Kenneth Bae who had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the country because the North Koreans viewed his missionary work as a threat to its authoritarian government. The country’s supreme court said Bae used his tourism business to form groups aimed at overthrowing the government. The basketball legend was later criticized harshly for not doing more to using his influence on Jong-un to push for Bae’s release.
Seven months down the road, Rodman paid the North Koreans another visit. He publicized how he had plans to train the country’s basketball players, and again, encouraged President Obama to connect with the “ruthless” Jong-un.
Last December, Rodman announced yet another visit to the North Korean nation, traveling with a U.S. team of former NBA players, such as Kenny Anderson, Doug Christie (“Basketball Wives L.A.”), and Charles Smith to take part in an exhibition game in the country. Yet prior to the game, Rodman made an inflammatory statement when he implied during a CNN interview that Bae’s imprisonment was actually his own fault.