WASHINGTON — Call me? Maybe?
North Korea's young leader has riled the U.S. with recent nuclear tests, but Kim Jong Un doesn't really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, according to ersatz diplomat Dennis Rodman, the ex-NBA star just back from an improbable visit to the reclusive communist country.
"He loves basketball. ... I said Obama loves basketball. Let's start there" as a way to warm up relations between U.S. and North Korea, Rodman told ABC's "This Week."
"He asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing, call him," said Rodman, who called the authoritarian leader an "awesome guy" during his trip. The State Department criticized North Korea last week for "wining and dining' Rodman while its own people go hungry.
Rodman also said Kim told him, "I don't want to do war. I don't want to do war."
Yet in January, after the U.N. Security Council voted to condemn the North's successful rocket launch in December and expand penalties against Kim's government, his National Defense Commission said in a statement that "settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words." The statement also promised "a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century."
North Korea and the U.S. fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The foes technically remain at war. They never signed a peace treaty and do not have diplomatic relations.
Rodman was the highest-profile American to meet Kim since Kim inherited power from father Kim Jong Il in 2011. He traveled to the secretive state with the Harlem Globetrotters team for a new HBO series produced by New York-based VICE television.
The visit took place amid rising tensions between the countries.
North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a "hostile" policy toward the North.
Rodman said he was aware of North Korea's human rights record, which the State Department has characterized as one of the worst in the world, but said he wasn't apologizing for Kim.
"He's a good guy to me," Rodman said, adding, that "as a person to person, he's my friend. I don't condone what he does."
Basketball is popular in North Korea, and Thursday's exhibition game with two Americans playing on each team alongside North Koreans ended in a 110-110 tie. Following the game Kim threw an "epic feast" for the group, plying them with food and drinks and making round after round of toasts.
Rodman's trip was the second attention-grabbing American visit this year to North Korea. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, made a four-day trip in January, but did not meet Kim.
Rodman said he planned to go back to North Korea to "find out more what's really going on."
WASHINGTON — Call me? Maybe?
- Local Sports
Stotler’s hit lifts Post 13 to 5-3 win
Brandon Stotler singled home Brady Hillegas to snap a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning and all nine starters hit safely as Fort Cumberland beat Severna Park 5-3 on a chilly opening night at the Maryland American Legion Baseball State Tournament Tuesday at Memorial Field.
Bosley returning to Southern sideline
Tom Bosley is back, again, at Southern Garrett High School.
And so are a few of his friends.
Casselman beats North Side, 9-1
Connor Christner fired a two-hitter and Lance Leydig had three hits to lead Casselman Valley to a 9-1 victory in the opening game of the Rec League Championship Series Tuesday evening at Frostburg State University.
Lynn Lewis scores ace at Maplehurst
Lynn Lewis hit a hole-in-one on No. 10 at Maplehurst Country Club playing in the Knights of Columbus Golf Tournament on July 25.
- Sports Calendar - 07/30/2014
NASCAR suspends Hamlin crew chief Grubb 6 races
NASCAR suspended Denny Hamlin’s crew chief and car chief on Tuesday for six races because the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection following his third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules
The NCAA agreed on Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports’ governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Rory McIlroy ready to get back to work
The claret jug is not out of sight. Rory McIlroy is just trying to get it out of his mind.
Colaw, Keller hits in 11th send Potomac Valley past Romney
Ryan Colaw hit an RBI single in the top of the 11th inning to put Potomac Valley up 9-8 and Garrett Keller’s hit made it 10-8 as Potomac Valley won the championship game of the West Virginia Area American Legion Tournament, 10-8, in 11 innings over Romney Sunday at Petersburg High School.
Maryland state tournament begins today at Memorial Field
The Maryland American Legion Baseball State Tournament returns to Cumberland today with six teams competing for the state title at Memorial Field at the Hammersmith Hot Stove Complex.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Stotler’s hit lifts Post 13 to 5-3 win