As the historic summit between the United States and North Korea unfolded, one famous American who has frequently visited North Korea spoke with CNN about the potential implications of the monumental meeting. Video of Dennis Rodman's CNN North Korea summit interview dubs the event "a great day for everybody." The former NBA player is currently in Singapore to mark the momentous occasion in-person, though he hasn't been formally involved in the talks.
Rodman has visited North Korea multiple times in the past and even met with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un. In addition to meeting with Kim, Rodman helped organize basketball exhibitions in the country.
During his interview on Cuomo Prime Time, Rodman became emotional as he discussed his former visits to North Korea and his push for diplomacy between the two countries. While he indicated he was thrilled about the summit taking place, he also become emotional as he discussed his frustration about how his past visits to the country were perceived. As Rodman put it:
I kept going back ... And I said to everyone, the door will open ... It was amazing, it's amazing ... when I said those things ... when I went back home I got so many death threats ... I couldn't even go home. I had to hide out for 30 days. I couldn't even go home. But I kept my head up high, brother. I knew things were going to change. I knew it. I was the only one. I never had no one to hear me. I never had no one to see me ... [But] I'm still standing. And today's a great day for everybody ... I'm so happy.
As the former NBA player indicated, in the past he has received some significant criticism for repeatedly visiting North Korea and meeting with Kim. As The New York Times described in June 2017, many condemned Rodman for publicizing and/or normalizing the North Korean regime, a repressive authoritarian country.
During his interview on Tuesday, Rodman also noted that he unexpectedly fell into the complex world of unofficially brokering relations between the United States and North Korea. As he described to host Chris Cuomo:
I was very naive when I went over there. I didn't understand ... all the things I was [getting into] when I went over there ... I knew nothing about North Korea. I thought I was going to play basketball and just treat the people and be happy and that was it. And it turned out to be so much more bigger than what I thought.
Rodman said that after visiting the country, he felt he owed it to "the people around the world" to broker a relationship between the United States and North Korea. He further commented, "This is not about Dennis Rodman being the greatest person in the world to lead these two people together ... I just wanted to see it get done, so we can all live good together. No more hatred."
Toward the end of his interview with Cuomo, Rodman indicated that he had spoken with the White House ahead of the summit. As Rodman described to the host, President Trump's secretary reportedly called the former NBA star and told him, "Donald Trump is so proud of you, he thanks you a lot." Rodman also added that he doesn't want to "take any credit" and that he "is glad that that this is happening" and wants everyone to "hope for the best." Though Rodman reportedly spoke with the White House, Trump had made it clear before the summit that the former basketball star would not officially be a part of the talks in Singapore.