Dennis Rodman apologized Thursday for comments he made in North Korea about a detained American missionary, saying he had been drinking and was under pressure as he organized a game with former NBA players.
The former basketball star issued the apology through publicist Jules Feiler in an email message to The Associated Press, a day after he sang "Happy Birthday'' to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the start of the friendly game.
Dennis Rodman has been slammed for not using his influence with Kim to help free Kenneth Bae, the missionary in poor health who is being confined in North Korea for "anti-state'' crimes. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Dennis Rodman implied Bae was at fault.
"I want to apologize,'' Dennis Rodman said Thursday. "I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It's not an excuse, it's just the truth.''
Dennis Rodman said he wanted to apologize first to Bae's family. "I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry.''
In the interview, Dennis Rodman was asked whether he would raise the issue of Bae during his visit.
"Kenneth Bae did one thing,'' Dennis Rodman replied. "If you understand what Kenneth Bae did - do you understand what he did in this country?''
Asked to explain, Dennis Rodman declined to respond.
Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary and tour operator based in China, has been detained for more than a year. North Korea sees missionary work as a threat to its authoritarian government.
Bae's sister, Terri Chung, welcomed Dennis Rodman's apology.
"I think it's good to see him recognize the gravity and the urgency of Ken's plight,'' she said from her home in Edmonds, Washington. "It's nothing he can make light of or play games with.''
"I just want to make sure that everyone - not just Dennis Dennis Rodman - everyone knows about Kenneth Bae's plight and how precarious it is,'' she said.
The U.S. State Department distanced itself from Dennis Rodman and said it did not want to "dignify'' his activities or comments in Pyongyang by commenting on them. But spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department