Dennis Rodman, the former basketball star, broke down on live television as he described his feelings of vindication at the historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un as well as the threats he endured for his unlikely friendship with the leader of a pariah state.
Rodman, who became something of a cheerleader for Pyongyang after visiting in 2013, arrived in Singapore on Monday ahead of the summit.
Although he has often been dismissed as a publicity seeking crank, he is one of the few Americans who can claim to have met the reclusive leader of North Korea, and one of the few in the world to know both leaders offering him an almost unique viewpoint.
He described how he carried an offer of talks from Kim to Barack Obama after his first meeting.
“I tried to do that with Obama and Obama didn’t even give me the time of day,” he told CNN, wearing one of the “Make America great again” hats of the Trump campaign. “I asked him, I said I have something to say from North Korea and he just brushed me off.”
He became emotional and wept as he described the reaction he endured for his efforts.
“It’s amazing, when I said those things, when I want back home I got so many death threats,” he said. “I got death threats. And i was sitting there protecting everything and I believed in North Korea
“I couldn’t even go home. I couldn’t even go home. I had to hide for 30 days”.
Trump-Kim summit in pictures: Best photos from Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un’s meeting in Singapore
He sounded like a man who had found vindication as the tears flowed from beneath his sunglasses.
Rodman added that he never doubted the day would come when the world would see things differently.
“I took all those bullets. I took everything that came at me and I’m still standing,” he said.
“It’s a great day and I’m here to see it. I’m so happy.”
Korea summit | Read more
He added that it was America’s duty to give Kim an opportunity to bring North Korea into the international fold.
“He’s all about the 21st Century. He’s trying to progress the country. Donald Trump has done a great job of trying to reach out, make sure that our hands – America’s hands – are always open,” he said.
“As Americans we have let so many people around the world join us to be happy and one country. That’s the United States and we have put ourselves on the line to reach out to North Korea.”
Rodman has made five trips to North Korea since Kim took power. But is also friends with Mr Trump, having appeared on his TV show Celebrity Apprentice.
Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2014
He claims to have given Kim a copy of Mr Trump’s bestselling book The Art of the Deal, but that hasn’t stopped the New York businessmen publicly ridiculing him on his Twitter account from time to time.