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'Don't give us negativity'

In advance of an exhibition basketball match to mark the birthday of North Korea's leader, former NBA star Dennis Rodman appeals for understanding.

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Former basketball superstar Denis Rodman has launched an extraordinary tirade while being interviewed by CNN about his activities in North Korea.

Rodman, who is visiting the country with a team of former NBA players for an exhibition match to celebrate leader Kim Jong-un's birthday, was angered by a question about an American missionary being held prisoner in the reclusive Communist state.

When asked by CNN reporter Chris Cuomo if he intended to raise the issue of Kenneth Bae's imprisonment with the North Korean leader, Rodman flew into a bizarre and at times unintelligible rage in which he accused Bae of wrongdoing, although failed to specify exactly what crime he had committed.

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman greets officials at Pyongyang airport on Thursday.

Circus: Former basketball star Dennis Rodman greets officials at Pyongyang. Photo: Reuters

"Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive here in this country, why? ... I would love to speak on this," Rodman said.

Shrugging off attempts by his fellow players to calm him down, Rodman continued by defending the decision to visit the reclusive Stalinist state.

"You know, you've got 10 guys here, they've left their families, they've left their damn families, to help this country, as in a sports venture," Rodman said.

"I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think. I'm saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them ... they dared to do one thing, they came here.

"People round the world, around the world, I want to do one thing. One day, one day, this door is going to open because these 10 guys here, all of us, [Doug] Christie, Vin [Baker], Dennis [himself], Charles [D. Smith] ... I mean everybody here, if we could open the door just a little bit for people to come here and do one thing."

The players seated round Rodman looked increasingly uncomfortable as he continued his rant.

It is the former Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons forward's third visit to North Korea in the past year.

Rodman has come under fire for saying he considers North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un his "friend" and refusing to openly condemn North Korea's human rights record.