SINGAPORE — Basketballer-turned-peace broker Dennis Rodman was in Singapore Tuesday to cheer on the historic meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The Post caught up with Rodman poolside at the Regent Hotel Singapore just minutes after the two leaders signed their denuclarization agreement to get his thoughts.
What is your initial reaction to the summit?
I said it all along, this shouldn’t be something negative, this should be something positive and still forward. And it took a long time for this to happen, it took a long time for this to happen. I think people want to see it and they’re going to make it happen. We just gotta keep it positive. I don’t think people want to see this as a publicity stunt. They don’t want to see that. They want to see some major change. Whether it’s war, peace or this friendship or some type of dialogue, I think people want to see that part. It’s been a long time overdue, right? And I keep telling people Kim Jong Un don’t want war, he don’t want war between America. He just wants some type of positive feedback from Americans and if he believes that, I think this will go a long way.
Is that what he told you when you were in North Korea?
He didn’t specifically say that. He didn’t want this to come down and be animosity between Americans. He just wanted everything to try and work itself out. It’s not going to take overnight to fix the problem that has happened over the past 15, 20 years. And you have to go back and try to redefine all the things that really have been going on with the two countries. And a lot of people are saying it’s about the militaries, it’s about nuclear war, and stuff like that, but I think it goes a lot deeper than that. So I think that, whatever they signed today, that should be a good thing, and a lot of people hope that they follow through with what they signed. And hopefully keep in that direction.
What role you can play in the future to keep this going?
I just think the role I can play in this whole situation I’ve been playing the last five years. I’ve been wanting to get us to be more involved with sports in North Korea. That was my whole goal and my direction in the beginning. So this turned out to be something more significant than sports, but I want to keep it that way in my position. I don’t want to be involved in the politics of this agreement, that’s between two governments, the Korean government and the American government.
Do you foresee yourself going back to North Korea now?
I will go back to North Korea. I’m not worried about that. I will go back to North Korea and I think the people of North Korea will see me as a trustworthy individual as they saw in the first meeting ahd the last meeting. And I’ll always be kind to those people because they’ve been kind to me. And I’ve said to people all along — those people have never showed any animosity, any aggression, any antagonizing ways that have proved me wrong. I say what happens with the labor, all the labor, the negativity, as far as the violence, the starvation, that’s not my department. And I just wanted to keep peace with sports … between the two countries. I do want that position to keep doing that.
You got emotional this morning on CNN — what was going through your head?
It was hot [laughs]. No it was just, it’s a tough subject for me to always talk about because at the time I felt like I was so, I was backed in a corner at that particular time and no one helped me to try to say what I was trying to do in North Korea. And some of the things I said when I was under the influence back then that took it in the wrong context. And I think that people see now that I do care what’s really going on and that’s why I’m over here. To show people my loyalty, especially to my country. And there’s no better place to be than in America. Because refugees around the world have come to America for asylum and we gave it to them and we appreciate people coming over and we always have open arms for anyone who is coming over. And I think that North Korea wants to have that opportunity now since we’re in the 21st century to try and build that bridge.
Why do you think it took Trump and Kim for this to happen?
I’m not a politician. You’ve heard so many people who have been covering this story for a long time and I think everyone’s been on ice skates for a long time about this and people who have been asked and delegated to go over there to try and solve some of our issues over the years have not been successful about it, but for me I’ve been more straight up with everyone in the world what my intentions was to go to North Korea to bring sports and to bring unity as far as sports are concerned. And a lot of people bashed me, that’s why I got emotional. I was trying to do that. And it went south for me and I was all by myself and no one helped me. People turned their back on me and they thought I was just too naive and too not aware of what was really taking place. And I tried to straighten it out, but I guess it took time for people to really absorb that and really understand that we need Trump, or somebody like that, to open his eyes and say let’s try it, let’s see where it goes.
What Trump qualities make this possible?
I think that, a lot of people have a lot of pride, especially when you have power and Trump has a lot of pride and Trump has been successful has a business person all of his life. His dad was very successful. Trump even told me a long time ago, “Dennis, it’s a great thing that you’re doing this in North Korea.” This was before he became president. And even with the quote he said, “Dennis must have been high or drunk…”
What was that about?
I just laughed at it, I said, whatever Trump. I call him Donald, I don’t call him Trump. But it’s a great day for everyone in the world, so we’re going to see how it goes.
What other plans do you have for this trip?
We’re going to go out and see some of the reaction in Singapore. What do they think about the meeting and why it took place in Singapore. And not in Switzerland or some other place like that. The people of Singapore have been graceful enough for us to be over here and especially this hotel and the love we have been given here. I love Singapore, I love all of Asia and the community and the people. I just hope that this is not a gimmick. I hope this is very serious. And I hope this is going to bridge some gaps between the countries and I think that they can do a good job. And I think that Trump will realize that Kim Jong Un is a great guy, inside, and put politics aside, I think they’ll begin a great friendship.
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