As new rhetoric streams from Pyongyang about the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula, the truth behind North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is that he does not "remotely think about bombing" other countries, according to former NBA player Dennis Rodman, who is on Guam as part of a goodwill tour.
The five-time NBA champion made headlines over the years not only for his skill on the court – and antics off it – but also because of his relationship with Kim and his self-styled title of ambassador to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as North Korea is officially known.
Attending a news conference yesterday, Rodman wore a T-shirt printed with the name of his sponsor – the cannabis-related cryptocurrency PotCoin – as well as images of President Donald Trump, himself and Kim side-by-side above the word "UNITE."
Rodman often uses basketball and sports as a talking point with the North Korean leader and, as he stated, politics is hardly on the table.
‘Like two big kids’
"(Kim) does not want to have war. When he talks to me, we don't want to have war at all. It may sound like that on the news, but I see that Donald Trump and him, it's more like two big kids. It's kill who's the toughest," Rodman told reporters.
"Because I don't know why (Kim) would, in my eyes, remotely think about bombing anything in the world. I never heard him saying it in my face and we talk all the time. So I think it's more like politics over the years between Americans and North Koreans. I try to stay out of (politics). I try to just be (Kim's) friend and bring sports, that's my whole thing."
Just hours before the news conference, reports of new rhetoric from North Korea again appeared to escalate tensions in the region. Military drills in and around the Korean peninsula carried out by the United States and South Korea have made war in the peninsula "an established fact," according to a Reuters report quoting remarks from the North Korean foreign ministry.
The country "does not wish" for war but "will not hide from it," Reuters reported.
Missile threats against Guam
North Korean officials directly threatened Guam in August after Trump stated that the country would be met with "fire and fury" if it attacked the U.S. The threat ignited a media frenzy despite local authorities' efforts to mitigate concerns that a North Korean missile would make its way to the island.
"I look at the big picture," Rodman said. "If people are scared that he's going to bomb your city ... why is this all happening? Why me of all people, because I'm friends with him. No, I believe the more we talk he does not want to bomb anybody. I'm just telling you straight from my mouth. He doesn't want to do it."
Rodman became somewhat emotional about halfway through the conference, turning from side to side and lightly flailing his arms. Speaking on how he would mediate between Trump and Kim, Rodman pointed to his T-shirt, at the word "UNITE."
‘It's the 22nd century, man’
"We try to unite instead of trying to bump heads with each other. Why not unite? It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt to try to open the door and try to have some communication. ... It just sucks. We can't get along. It's the 22nd century, man," an emotional Rodman stated.
Rodman said he plans on visiting North Korea again and meeting with Kim. He did not give a time frame, but said he would be meeting with him soon. While Trump has not contacted Rodman to talk about diplomacy between the countries, his door remains open, Rodman said.