Rodman sorry for Bae comment

Updated: 2014-01-10 08:43

(China Daily/Agencies)

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Retired US basketball star Dennis Rodman visited a ski resort in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Thursday with Kim Jong-un as a statement was issued on the former player's behalf apologizing for comments he made about a US citizen jailed by Pyongyang.

A source with direct knowledge of Rodman's itinerary said the 52-year old took a helicopter to the new multimillion dollar resort that is one of Kim's showcase projects.

Rodman sorry for Bae comment

DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, his wife Ri Sol-ju and former US basketball star Dennis Rodman watch a basketball game between former NBA and DPRK players at Pyongyang Gymnasium on Wednesday. Kcna Via Kns / Agence France-Presse

Rodman's visit to the DPRK, his fourth, has drawn criticism from human rights activists and the family of imprisoned US missionary Kenneth Bae after Rodman appeared to suggest in an interview peppered with obscenities that Bae, rather than the DPRK authorities, was responsible for his incarceration.

Rodman's public relations firm issued a statement attributed to the retired player apologizing for the comments and saying that he had been drinking on a stressful day.

It was not possible to verify with the company whether Rodman had seen the statement as it did not reply to e-mail or telephone inquiries.

"I want to apologize, I take full responsibility," Rodman was quoted by CNN as saying in the statement. "I embarrassed a lot of people. I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry."

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, has said her family was outraged by Rodman's comments and that he should use his access to the DPRK leader to advocate on Bae's behalf, rather than "hurl outrageous accusations".

"He is playing games with my brother's life," Chung said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Rodman led a chorus singing Happy Birthday to Kim at a basketball match that Kim attended with his young wife.

The DPRK state media said the song was "reflecting (Rodman's) reverence" for Kim Jong-un, and that he had organized the game as a gift for his birthday, confirming for the first time the young leader's date of birth. He is believed to be 31.

Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the DPRK's ruling Workers' Party, dedicated its front page on Thursday to coverage of the basketball game and published photos of Kim sitting and laughing with Rodman.

"Dennis Rodman said he was overjoyed and teared up when he met the Dear Respected Marshal again," the front page article said.