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Dennis Rodman apologizes for comments on American held in North Korea: report

Former basketball player Dennis Rodman serenaded North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, capping his performance with a slight bow, followed by a basketball game.

Dennis Rodman is reportedly apologizing for comments he made in an interview about an American missionary held captive in North Korea for more than a year.

The former NBA star, who has cozied up to North Korea’s young dictator, made the apology through an email sent by publicist Jules Feiler, The Associated Press reported. 

"I want to apologize," Rodman said in the email to AP. "I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It's not an excuse, it's just the truth."

A source with direct knowledge of Rodman's itinerary told Reuters the 52-year had then hopped on a chopper to a new multimillion dollar ski resort which is one of Kim's showcase projects. 


In the bizarre, expletive-littered and sometimes incoherent interview with CNN on Tuesday, Rodman came close to suggesting that the American, Kenneth Bae, was responsible for his captivity.

Bae, 45, was leading a tour group in North Korea, the reclusive and repressive communist country, when he was detained. He was accused and convicted of trying to overthrow the government and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Reuters, AP

A file picture of Kenneth Bae, left, and Dennis Rodman in North Korea on Tuesday, right.

His mother visited him in October and said that Bae was "alone and ailing."

Rodman told CNN on Tuesday that the visit to North Korea, his fourth, was a "great idea for the world" and might "open the door." But he bristled when he was pressed on whether he would try to use the trip to help Bae.

"If you understand what Kenneth Bae did?" Rodman angrily demanded of the interviewer, Chris Cuomo. "Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive in this country?"

Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said her family was outraged following Rodman’s erratic interview. She said the hoops star was in a position to advocate for Bae but instead insinuated he had “done something sinister.”

On Thursday, Chung said she accepted Rodman’s apology. But she told the Associated Press that her brother’s case is still “nothing he can make light or play games with.” 

She said that Rodman was in a position to advocate for Bae but instead "has decided to hurl outrageous accusations at my brother, insinuating that Kenneth has done something sinister."

Asked on MSNBC what she would say to Rodman, she responded: "If you don't want to help, please do not harm. Step aside and please let the diplomats do their work to bring Kenneth home now."

Rodman also was roundly criticized for leading a crowd at a North Korean auditorium in serenading the leader, Kim Jong Un, with "Happy Birthday" on Wednesday at an exhibition game between former NBA players and a North Korean team.

Kim was not shown in the "Happy Birthday" video. Rodman sang, and a crowd of North Koreans was shown smiling and clapping. The North Korean and American players, standing behind Rodman, clapped along, too. Rodman bowed at the end.

NBC News' Gil Aegerter contributed to this report.

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