June 12, 2018 / 5:08 AM / 2 years ago

Emotional Dennis Rodman says Kim trying to change North Korea

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, one of a handful of Westerners to have met North Korean head of state Kim Jong Un, said the young leader was trying to make changes in his country.

The comment came after Rodman had wept on CNN when discussing the unprecedented talks in Singapore between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump. Rodman had declared he was in Singapore “to be part of it.”

“(Kim) is trying to change his people and his culture for a little bit, and I think Donald Trump did a great job at keeping his composure and understand that Kim Jong Un wants to have trust in America,” Rodman told reporters on Tuesday.

Kim and Trump agreed to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, an agreement that has been met with both praise and some scepticism that it will lead to tangible changes.

There has been no indication Rodman would be involved in official talks with Kim or Trump. Asked last week if Rodman had been invited to Singapore, Trump said, “No, he wasn’t.”

“Just here to be a part of it, and I’m glad I’m here,” Rodman said, adding he hoped Trump would invite him to the White House for a visit.

In an interview with CNN earlier on Tuesday, Rodman said: “It’s a great day,” wiping away tears from beneath a large pair of black sunglasses.

Kim has returned to his hotel following the summit. He is expected to leave Singapore at 1300 GMT on Tuesday, two sources familiar with the plans said.

Rodman most recently travelled to North Korea a year ago as a private citizen. This trip to Singapore, like the last one, is sponsored by potcoin.com, the crypto-currency provider for the legal marijuana industry, Rodman said on Twitter.

Former basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Changi Airport in Singapore, June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Feline Lim

Before Trump became president, Rodman appeared twice on his “Celebrity Apprentice” show and praised the billionaire real estate developer on Twitter during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some U.S. politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

His earlier visits to North Korea included a basketball game he organised, an event chronicled in the documentary film “Big Bang in Pyongyang,” which featured Rodman singing “Happy Birthday” to Kim, as well as scenes of inebriated and erratic behaviour by the basketball Hall of Famer.

Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Writing by John Geddie; editing by Neil Fullick

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