Skip to Content

Back from a whirlwind trip to North Korea, Dennis Rodman says his “friend for life” Kim Jong Un just wants President Barack Obama to call him.

The former NBA star told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on This Week, “He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him. He said, ‘If you can, Dennis.'”

“I don’t want [to] do war. I don’t want to do war.’ He said that to me.”

Dennis Rodman Interview

The 51-year-old athlete said the two sides already have common ground, and he offered Kim some advice for potential future talks with Obama.

“[Kim] loves basketball. And I said the same thing, I said, ‘Obama loves basketball.’ Let’s start there,” the Basketball Hall of Fame member said.


Rodman’s comments come just days after the basketball star shocked the world with an unexpected, largely unexplained trip to Pyongyang, North Korea.

He is the first known American to publicly meet the mysterious Kim since he assumed command of the nation after the 2011 death of his father, Kim Jong-Il.

Kim is often regarded as one of the world’s most oppressive leaders, presiding over prison camps and allowing millions of his own people to starve.

He has also sought to enhance the North’s clout as a nuclear-armed state.

Rodman likely now has more firsthand impressions of Kim than any other American, and h offered some insight to Kim’s personality Sunday morning.

“He loves power. He loves control,” Rodman said, of his new “friend.” “But guess what? He doesn’t want war. That’s one thing he doesn’t want.”

Thursday, he gushed, “I love him. He’s awesome.” And he won’t backtrack.

“No, I’m not apologiz[ing] for him,” Rodman said. “You know, he’s a good guy to me. Guess what? He’s my friend. I don’t condone what he does.”

“[But] as a person to person – he’s my friend.”

Rodman traveled through Pyongyang with members of the Harlem Globetrotters team and a camera crew from the upcoming HBO series, VICE.

Kim Jong Un warmly welcomed and rolled out the red carpet for the Americans.

At an exhibition game with Kim, Rodman stood up to give a speech to the basketball crowd, at one point telling Kim, “You have a friend for life.”

Rodman also raised eyebrows when he called Kim’s family “great leaders.”

“What I saw in that country … I saw people respect him and his family. That’s what I mean,” he said on This Week. “They’re great leaders there.”

“The kid is only 28 years old. Twenty eight,” he said, in further defense of the young dictator. “He’s not his dad. Not his grandpa. He’s 28 years old.”

The U.S. State Department had no involvement in the visit, and officials say they have no plans to debrief Rodman after his meeting with Kim.

Col. Steve Ganyard, USMC (Ret.), a former deputy assistant secretary of state, told ABC’s Martha Raddatz the State Department’s decision is “ridiculous.”

“There is nobody at the CIA who can tell you more personally about Kim Jong Un than Dennis Rodman, and that in itself is scary,” Ganyard said.

It’s also pretty hilarious.