Former NBA star Charles D. Smith says he feels remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman for a game on the North Korean leader’s birthday because the event has been dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman’s own comments.
Smith and other former NBA players are scheduled to play with Rodman against a team of North Koreans in a game on Wednesday that organizers say leader Kim Jong Un is expected to attend. Many of the players on Tuesday privately expressed second thoughts about going ahead because of an outpouring of criticism in the United States.
Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, said the North Korea trip has been dwarfed by politics and Rodman’s frequent boasts about his close friendship with Kim.
“What we are doing is positive, but it is getting dwarfed by the other circumstances around it,” Smith told The Associated Press. “Apparently our message is not being conveyed properly due to the circumstances that are much bigger than us, and I think that has to do with politics and government.
Rodman became enraged during a CNN interview Tuesday when asked about whether he would raise the issue of American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in North Korea since May on charges of “anti-state” crimes, to Kim.
“Kenneth Bae did one thing … if you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? … I would love to speak on this,” Rodman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo while pointing at the camera.