Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman attend a basketball game in North Korea
(Photo: KCNA, AFP/Getty Images)
David Jackson, USA TODAY
Dennis Rodman, North Korea's most famous recent visitor, brought back a message from dictator Kim Jong Un to President Obama: Call me.
"He wants Obama to do one thing -- call him," Rodman said during an interview on ABC's This Week about the former basketball star's recent visit to North Korea.
Don't expect Obama and Kim to become phone buddies anytime soon.
The United States has sought to isolate North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, including a series of nuclear and missile tests.
"We have urged the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama's call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with is international obligations," said Hayden Caitlin, spokesperson for the National Security Council. "North Korea's actions, however, directly violate UN Security Council resolutions and threaten international peace and security."
Caitlin added: "Instead of spending money on staging sporting events, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people who have been starved, imprisoned and denied their human rights."
Rodman, who visited North Korea along with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, is believed to be the first American to meet with the 28-year-old Kim since he replaced father Kim Jong Il after the latter's death.
Rodman, who spent two days with Kim, told ABC he bonded with the North Korean over their mutual love of basketball.
"I love him," Rodman said. "The guy's awesome. He was so honest."
Rodman dodged repeated questions from This Week host George Stephanopoulos about North Korea's poor human rights records, including political prison camps and threats to attack the United States. At one point, Rodman said, "this is all politics, right?" and attributed many of North Korea's problems to Kim's youth and the legacy of his father.
Kim "loves power," Rodman said. "He loves control."
Stephanopoulos wrapped up the interview by giving Rodman a copy of the latest Human Rights Watch report on North Korea, just in case he goes back.