Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday that he was “disappointed” with Rodman’s basketball trip because it was “being used propaganda-wise by the regime.”
“I think Dennis has drank a little too much of the Kool-Aid from the North Koreans,” said Richardson, who has traveled to the country several times.
On Monday, before boarding a flight in China for North Korea, Rodman told CNN, “I’m going to try and interact with him (Kim) on that point of love for sports … He loves sports. I like the guy, and he’s an awesome guy to me.”
Concerning Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, Rodman suggested in a CNN interview Tuesday that had done something wrong but did not say what that was. Bae has been held prisoner for more than a year for reasons that are not clear.
Rodman “crossed the line” by implying Bae might be guilty of a crime that justified his detention, Richardson said.
Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, held a news conference Monday to call on Rodman to call off the game. With a mother and daughter who escaped North Korea standing next to him, Engel called it “very ill-conceived,” according to Time.com. “I don’t think we should ignore the real suffering in this gulag state,” Engel said. “And Dennis Rodman wants to go there and play basketball. It would be like inviting Adolf Hitler to lunch.”
Georgetown University Professor Victor Cha, a former director for Asian affairs at the White House, told CNN Rodman’s trips could be helpful to experts and analysts who study Kim. “In spite of all the criticism of Dennis Rodman, every time he meets with the North Korean leader, that’s more information that we know about him because we know so little about him,” Cha said.
Given the unpredictability of the Kim regime, it’s possible North Korea could decide to release Bae as a favor to Rodman. Cha said. “It’s entirely possible that he (Kim) could do something like that, and if he did all of us would stop criticizing Dennis Rodman,” he said.