Dennis Rodman is praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for ‘modernizing’ the country despite the volatile leader’s nuclear threats to the U.S.
The former basketball star is known for making several trips to the controversial country and even becoming friends with Kim, who became ‘Supreme Leader’ in 2011.
Rodman told DuJour Magazine that Kim has done a great deal since coming to power to bring the Asian country into the 21st century.
‘He is changing North Korea so much it is really becoming a 24th century country now,’ he said.
‘It’s more like they took down the “Flintstone” age and put in the “Jetsons”. Out with the old, in with the new,’ referencing the 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoons take place in the Stone Age and the future, respectively.
Dennis Rodman is praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for ‘modernizing’ the country (Pictured, Rodman, far right, and Kim, third from right, chat while watching an exhibition basketball game between American and North Korean players in North Korea in 2014)
Rodman has visited North Korea six times since 2013 and appears to be very close with Kim. In a recent interview, he praised Kim for modernizing North Korea (Pictured, Kim, left, in an undated file photo, and Rodman, right, at Beijing International Airport in China en route to Pyongyang in January 2014)
Rodman said: ‘He is changing North Korea so much it is really becoming a 24th century country now. It’s more like they took down the “Flintstone” age and put in the “Jetsons”. Out with the old, in with the new,’ referencing the 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoons that take place in the Stone Age (The Flintstones) and the future (The Jetsons)
Rodman insists, however, that although he is an American celebrity, the same doesn’t apply in Pyongyang.
‘You think you’re a famous athlete over here. But you feel really small when you go over there. People don’t even know you,’ he said.
‘You think that you’re cool in America, that you can go anywhere and people recognize you, want your autograph and pictures. You go over there, and they just walk right past you.’
The Hall of Famer also stated that Kim is a true innovator. He said: ‘The third time I went there, wow. [Pyongyang] changed a lot. New buildings were popping up and [Kim] is building all these new condos and hotels’ (Pictured, Rodman, far left, and Kim, far right, at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in January 2014 for an exhibition basketball game)
Despite Rodman trying to portray a more human Kim, many can’t help but wonder how true it is, especially given reports of the despot’s cruel and unusual punishments (Pictured, Rodman and Kim pose with other basketball players at an exhibition basketball game to celebrate Kim’s birthday in January 2014)
Rodman has had a very unique relationship with North Korea for years, ever since Kim – who is reportedly obsessed with the team the Chicago Bulls – wanted to meet the former member.
Rodman has visited the country six times since 2013 and appears to be very close with Kim, who holds the title of Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The Hall of Famer also stated that Kim is a true innovator.
‘It’s funny, because when I first went there it was so…Communist,’ Rodman said.
‘Dry and dreary and like, I don’t know. Everything is so dead.
‘But the third time I went there, wow. [Pyongyang] changed a lot. New buildings were popping up and [Kim] is building all these new condos and hotels.
‘He built the largest water park in the world, a ski resort and this big bowling alley. He’s doing everything for these people. You could go bowl for a quarter all day or go swimming all day for like 50 cents.’
Rodman insists, however, that although he is an American celebrity, the same doesn’t apply in Pyongyang and that people often ‘walk right past you’ (Rodman, pictured here in 1991, looks on during a game with his first team the Detroit Pistons – with whom he played from 1985 to 1993)
Rodman has in the past called Kim a ‘friend for life’ and describes him as ‘just like any other guy’ (Anti-North Korea protesters wear pig masks. symbolizing Kim, and Rodman masks at a demonstration in January 2014)
Despite Rodman trying to portray a more human Kim, many can’t help but wonder how true it is, especially given reports of the despot’s cruel and unusual punishments.
In 2013, Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was accused of being a counter-revolutionary, and was arrested and executed firing squad style.
It was a dramatic fall for a man who was once considered Kim’s top adviser.
Such brutal purges of top officials have been a key strategy the leadership uses to keep a handle on power.
Satellite-images have also discovered North Korean’s prison-camp system – where as many as 120,000 men, women and children are held.
Prisoners are often subjected to forced labor, torture, starvation, rape and death – although Pyongyang denies that the camps even exist.
Kim (pictured, visiting the People’s Army in February 2017) is said to be far from benevolent, brutally purging top officials and putting those seen as threats to the regime in a prison-camp system
The most recent worry has arisen over North Korea’s faithfulness to its nuclear arms program. Several weapons continue to be developed with the eventual goal of a missile powerful enough to reach the US.
On Monday, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile launch over Japan. Kim is believed to have fired the rocket over Japan because it is the path towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, which he threatened to attack two weeks ago.
US President Donald Trump blasted North Korea and said he had received the dictator’s message ‘loud and clear’ and that ‘all options are on the table’.