As US president Donald Trump met North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday, news network CNN got itself a coup: Its anchor Chris Cuomo interviewed Dennis Rodman, former American basketball player and close confidante of the reclusive Kim.
Speaking to Cuomo, Rodman got emotional as he spoke of his efforts of trying to bring bitter rivals North Korea and the US together. "I spoke to Kim Jong-un and the North Korean administration five years ago, and he told me there were three things I should speak to the US president about. If the US can agree to the three things, they would be willing for a conversation," Rodman recalled.
Rodman recalled speaking to then president Barack Obama about these conditions, but "Obama didn't even give me the time. He just brushed me off". "But that didn't deter me. I just kept going back. I showed my loyalty and trustworthiness to this country. I told everybody that 'the door will open'," he recalled.
The meeting Rodman was referring to came back in March 2013. At the time, Pyongyang had successfully launched a rocket and the UN Security Council voted to expand penalties against Kim's government. As reported by The Telegraph in March 2013, Rodman quoted Kim as saying he's against war. "I don't want to do war. I don't want to do war," Rodman had quoted the North Korean leader as saying.
Rodman further told CNN that when he went back to Washington, he received death threats. "When I went back home, I got so many death threats. I couldn't even go home for 30 days. But I believed in North Korea. I knew things were going to change. I was the only one who felt so. There was nobody else. And I am still standing. And today is a great day for everybody. I am so happy," Rodman, visibly shaking and crying, said.
With Trump, however, Rodman said, things changed because he understood that people of North Korea have a heart and a soul. "The Marshall of North Korea (Kim Jong-un) trusts me. I got a lot of people together, and Kim Jong-un told me this was the first time anybody's ever kept their word to me and my country," Rodman recalled.
It was a learning he passed on to Trump as well. "If Trump goes there with his great heart, with his heart on the table, if he can let Kim see him really emotional, it will show that he's trustworthy as well," Rodman said, "It doesn't have to be about war, what happened in the past, about hatred, or how the future will be."