WASHINGTON -- Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, in his first interview since returning from North Korea last week, had a message for President Barack Obama: Kim Jong Un wants the president to give him a call.
"He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him," Rodman said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "He said, 'If you can, Dennis -- I don't want [to] do war. I don't want to do war.' He said that to me."
The comment follows Rodman's bizarre trip to Pyongyang, North Korea, with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and a camera crew from Vice magazine. During his visit, he sat next to the North Korean leader at a basketball game, attended a party at his palace and quickly became the most high-profile apologist for the dictator.
On Sunday, Rodman told host George Stephanopoulos that he considers Kim Jong Un a "friend," a "great guy" and "very humble."
The North Korean government is considered one of the world's most brutal, offering its people prison camps and mass starvations. Recently, tensions have been mounting between the United States and North Korea, which in February conducted its third nuclear test. The regime has also ramped up its rhetoric against both the U.S. and South Korea, warning that U.S. forces would "meet a miserable destruction" if they continued scheduled military drills with South Korean troops.
That North Korea is so closed to outsiders has put Rodman in the unlikely position of cultural ambassador. "There is nobody at the CIA who can tell you more personally about Kim Jong Un than Dennis Rodman," remarked ABC News military analyst Col. Steve Ganyard, "and that in itself is scary."