Kim Jong Un is a “great guy” with a firm conviction to change his country for the better, said former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman, who has met the North Korean leader several times.
Rodman’s comments to reporters in Singapore on Tuesday afternoon came hours after Kim met with US President Donald Trump for their historic summit. The two leaders signed an agreement towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, among other objectives.
Kim’s efforts to make the summit happen showed that he is sincere in pursuing peace, according to Rodman.
“He’s trying to change his people and his culture from within… he’s gonna show the world that he’s gonna try… make this a whole different regime,” Rodman said during a doorstop interview at the Regent Hotel, which is across the street from the St Regis Hotel, where Kim has been staying for the summit.
Rodman first met Kim in North Korea in 2013 to watch US exhibition basketball team Harlem Globetrotters play a North Korean team in Pyongyang. There has been no report of a planned meeting in Singapore between Rodman and Kim, who is expected to return home on Tuesday night.
On his decision to travel to Singapore for the summit, Rodman said he was not in it for the money. “I’m not here to put my name on the map. I’m just here to be a part of it and I’m glad I’m here,” he added.
The basketball Hall of Famer’s previous visits have drawn criticisms for his cosying up to a man considered by many as a brutal dictator. Dismissing the negative perceptions of his “friend”, Rodman insisted that Kim and North Korea have always been peace-loving.
“As long as I’ve known Kim and the country of North Korea, they have never shown any hatred towards the world,” Rodman said.
“He’s always going to be my friend till the day I die.”