DJ: You’ve said in the past that Kim Jong-un wants President Obama to call him. Can you elaborate on that?
DR: He really, really wants to talk to Obama. He can’t say it enough. He wants to talk to him to try to open that door a little bit. He’s saying that he doesn’t want to bomb anybody. He said, “I don’t want to kill Americans.” He loves Americans.
DJ: Have you ever seen anything alarming in your time there?
DR: It’s just like any other country, you go to Russia, Germany, you’re gonna see soldiers all over the place. You see soldiers that carry guns and sit at the airports. It’s just like that.
DJ: But the difference is that in North Korea there are hundreds of thousands of people suffering and starving in labor camps.
DR: You name any country in the world… Which country does not have that shit? Every country has that.
DJ: When you hear that people are dying of malnourishment and being overworked—have you been in the fields, have you seen that?
DR: I’ve seen it. They work for peanuts. But like I said, he’s not like his grandfather or father. He’s not like that. He’s actually trying to change it. He’s actually doing cool things for these people, and that’s why they love him so much.
DJ: And the accusations about him having his family members killed…
DR: You could say anything here about North Korea and people would believe it. The last time I went there, when they said they killed his girlfriend, they killed his uncle, they just fed him to the dogs… They were standing right behind me.
DJ: You’re saying that the uncle that the North Korean government itself confirms was executed is actually alive?
DR: He was standing right there.
DJ: Are you ever concerned about your safety when you’re over there?
DR: I love my country. I love my country to death. And there’s no other place in the world I’d rather live. But if I go to North Korea—the next time I go to North Korea—the fear for me of not coming back… It won’t be because of North Korea. So I’m just letting you know right now… [long pause] That’s the real truth. Read between the lines on that one.
DJ: So you think the American government would have a problem with you coming back into the country?
DR: When I go there, it’s going to be a problem coming back. Because they could actually stop me from coming back. They could actually pull my passport. They already told me that. They’re afraid of me because I know so much.
DJ: “They” being…?
DR: Americans. Our government. They’ve got to be careful what they say, what they do, so I respect that. But for me, I mean, it’s freedom of speech. I’m not hurting anybody, I’m not putting anybody in danger, I’m just telling what I see. I have that leverage now that no one in the world has.
DJ: Is it true you’re being indicted by the U.S. Treasury?
DR: They want to indict me. And I’m like, “For what?” Treason. They’ve threatened me. They said I gave his wife a fur coat, a dress, I gave all these gifts. I was like, “I did? No I didn’t!”
DJ: Have you ever asked the U.S. government for support?
DR: I said six months ago [to the government], “Why don’t you guys help me?” They didn’t even give me a f–king response, so I was like, f–k it. I just wish people would actually take advantage of the situation that I have, instead of ridiculing me about everything I do. It’s so unfair. It’s very hard to try to do something like that in North Korea by yourself when the government don’t want to help you.
DJ: Why do you think that is?
DR: If Magic Johnson went over there, it would have been a whole different story. He would have had so many people helping him to do some good stuff for the world. But I did this all by myself. I want to go back and take a couple people with me so they could actually see it and say, “Hey, you know what? It’s actually true what he’s been saying.”
DJ: Who do you have in mind?
DR: I asked Oprah to go with me next time. I’ve asked quite a few people.
DJ: Does this make you more interested in politics or less?
DR: People put me in a category as this diplomat, this ambassador, which I don’t want to be. This is a sports thing. In 10 to 15 years, this is going to be historical. Watch. Because I went there for sports. No one’s ever done that! It’s using sports to open the doors for communication around the world. Going through sports, not through politics. So that people can see North Korea in a great light. That little kid is changing North Korea for the better, and once we see that, maybe he’ll just loosen up and start opening the door for the people of the world. That’s it.
(This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Photographed on location at Turnberry Isle Miami.)
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