(CNN) -- Basketball star Dennis Rodman defended his controversial visit to North Korea with a team of former NBA players in a combative exchange Tuesday, saying it was a "great idea for the world."
In an exclusive interview with Chris Cuomo of CNN's "New Day," Rodman reacted angrily when pressed on whether the group should have traveled there given recent events in the secretive country.
The trip takes place just weeks after North Korea shocked the world by announcing the purge and execution of Kim's once-powerful uncle. There are also concerns for the welfare of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, who's been detained there for more than a year for reasons that are unclear.
The other former NBA players are due to take part in a controversial basketball game on the birthday of Kim Jong Un, the country's young, unpredictable leader. The friendly contest with North Korea's team is planned for Wednesday, when Kim is believed to turn 31.
Apparently referring to Kim, Rodman said, "I love my friend. This is my friend." He spoke from the country's capital, Pyongyang.
Asked if he would take the opportunity to ask North Korean leaders about Bae, Rodman suggested the Korean-American had done something wrong but did not say what that was.
Growing angry with Cuomo and jabbing his finger toward the camera for emphasis, Rodman said, "Kenneth Bae did one thing. ... If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? ... I would love to speak on this.
"You know, you've got 10 guys here, 10 guys here, they've left their families, they've left their damn families, to help this country, as in a sports venture. That's 10 guys, all these guys here, do anyone understand that? Christmas, New Year's. ...
"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."
Bae, a married father of three, was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor. The North Korean government has said he was found guilty of "hostile acts" and attempts to topple the government.
He's suffered a series of health problems in detention, but pleas for his release have had no effect.
His mother, Myunghee Bae, who was allowed to visit in October, told CNN that her son was a devout Christian who had not understood the system in North Korea. North Korea is officially an atheist state and has punished missionaries in the past.