Dennis Rodman: North Koreans Are 'So Happy'
Claims he helped facilitate Otto Warmbier's return
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2017 12:40 PM CDT
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman leaves the Koryo hotel for Sunan International Airport on Saturday, June 17, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

(Newser) – Visiting North Korea is like visiting any other Asian country, says Dennis Rodman. You're "going to see some poverty," but the country is "civilized" and the people are "so happy" under the control of a dictator who, with Rodman at least, sings karaoke and rides horses, he tells ABC News. The problem is that "people don't see ... the good side about that country." In addition to being able to tell America just how "modernized" North Korea has become since his last visit, Rodman says his trip also allowed him to do some good. Otto Warmbier's release on the day Rodman arrived in the country shows "some good things came of this trip," he says. However, Warmbier's family and the State Department say Rodman had no role in the release.

Rodman's agent disagrees, telling ABC, "I know being there had something to do with it." Chris Volo says he pressed North Korean officials to release Warmbier "three times" ahead of the trip, stressing that a sign of good faith was needed before Rodman would agree to "future sports relations. … They said they understood." Rodman, however, says he didn't know Warmbier was "sick" when released. Warmbier died Monday after arriving in the US in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness." Since Rodman's trip, 1,600 people have signed a petition demanding he be removed from the Basketball Hall of Fame in a sign that "American society, from sports to politics, will … reject the shameless coddling of murderous dictatorial regimes," per CNN.

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