Rodman 'sorry' over N Korean trip

BEIJING - An emotional Dennis Rodman appeared to break down yesterday as he apologised on his return from a controversial trip to North Korea, where he sang "Happy Birthday" to regime leader Kim Jong Un.

The former National Basketball Association (NBA) star was widely criticised for refusing to bring up human-rights abuses or the plight of a United States missionary detained in North Korea during his week-long visit.

The former Chicago Bulls player was also accused of pandering to the North Korean authorities during the trip, which featured an exhibition basketball match involving other NBA stars to mark Mr Kim's birthday.

"I love my country, America, I love it and I will never trade it for nothing in the world," the pierced and heavily tattooed Rodman told reporters at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson had described Rodman's actions as "treason".

Rodman said he wanted to "show people that no matter what is going on in the world, for one day... Not politics, not all this stuff...", before launching into an apology.

"I am sorry. I am not the president. I am not an ambassador. I am Dennis Rodman. Just an individual, just showing the world the fact that we can actually get along and be happy for one day," he said, before his voice broke and he put his hands to his face.

He was ushered through a heavy media presence by security and his entourage at the airport.