Former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman complained during an interview with ABC News on Friday that people don’t see “the good side” of North Korea.
Rodman, who has traveled to the Communist regime multiple times, became emotional when discussing criticism of his visits to the country, and insisted that the visits are “worth it.”
“What am I getting out of this? I’m going over there out of the kindness of my heart to just to try to help, next thing I know I’m coming back, wow, what did I do that’s so bad?” Rodman said on “Good Morning America” as he choked back tears. “It just sucks.”
North Korea is run by a brutal dictatorship and is often referred to as the Hermit Kingdom because it is so cut off from the rest of the world. The Kim regime has been accused of human rights abuses, including torturing and imprisoning defectors.
But Rodman offered praise for the country.
“People don't see the good side about that country,” Rodman said, calling it “modernized,” and its people “happy.” He even called North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un “a friendly guy."
"We sing karaoke," Rodman said. "It's all fun. Ride horses, everything."
Rodman said he doesn’t “look at the political side” of Kim Jong Un, adding that his visits to the country are about sports, not politics.
Rodman also suggested that he played a role in the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea last week. Warmbier, who was in a coma at the time of his release, died just days after his return to the United States.
Warmbier, who was a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested after North Korean state-run media said he committed a “hostile act” against the Kim Jong Un regime.
"I was just so happy to see the kid released," Rodman said. "Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill, no one knew that. We jumped up and down ... Some good things came out of this trip."
Chris Volo, Rodman's agent who accompanied the athlete on his trip to North Korea, told ABC News that before they went, "I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times."
"I know being there had something to do with it," Volo said.
A spokesperson for the Department of State said last week that Rodman’s visit to North Korea had nothing to do with Warmbier’s release. Warmbier's father also disputed Rodman’s claim.
Elsewhere in the interview, Rodman, who said he is a supporter of President Donald Trump, urged the president to “get on a damn plane,” shake hands with Kim Jong Un, “and try to make peace.”
“You think Donald Trump wouldn’t give his right arm if he could fix that problem?” Rodman asked.
“Donald, come talk to me,” he added. “Let’s try to work this out.”