PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA – Dennis Rodman is back in the spotlight. And back in North Korea.
This time he’s got a squad of former NBA players in tow – all of them insisting they are not afraid to be in one of the most secretive and isolated places on earth.
“The extreme views on North Korea come about because most people have not been there, and because people have a sense of fear of the unknown, and a lack of knowledge and it becomes an illusion,” says former player Charles D. Smith.
Of course, it’s no illusion that leader Kim Jung-Un had his own uncle executed last month. And that he allegedly authorizes killings, beatings as well as the use of prison camps for perceived opponents.
American missionary Kenneth Bae is among those locked up.
“I’m not trying to save the world. I’m not trying to save Kenneth Bae and all those people. That’s not my job. My job is one thing – sports” says Rodman.
Some say the trip is just a much-needed payday for ex-players with money trouble. But at least for Rodman, it’s more. Kim Jung-Un is his friend, and this is his 31st (supposedly) birthday.
“I like the guy (Kim Jong-Un) and he’s an awesome guy to me. And that’s about it.”