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Dennis Rodman on Kim Jong-Un: “He’s My Friend!”

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The North Korean official press, Korean Central News Agency, enthusiastically covered Chicago Bulls retired basketball star Dennis Rodman’s visit to Pyongyang, quoting the player as saying that the current impasse between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is, “regrettable.” Global news agencies had varied approaches in their reporting of the meeting, but most agreed that the encounter was a great success.

Americans may have been surprised at the hostility that greeted Rodman, as the 6’ 7” retired athlete, affectionately known as “The Worm,” attempted to convey his feelings to television watchers worldwide. George Stephanopoulos, on ABC News, came close to being outright insulting to the celebrity ballplayer for his apparent lack of insight into the young North Korean leader. Stephanopoulos chose to hear only what he wanted to hear, and Rodman has never claimed to be a student of either history or world affairs. The talk show host refused to be led away from what he considered the important issues of nuclear proliferation and cruelty.

Rodman said of Kim Jong-Un, “He’s my friend.” Rodman noted Kim’s humility, and that the people of North Korea love their leader. Dennis Rodman, 52, a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, was barely able to squeeze into the conversation that he cared deeply that both Kim and President Obama love basketball. Kim, Rodman said, would be happy if Obama were to call him.

On Thursday, Kim Jong-Un, dressed in his customary blue Mao suit, laughed and enjoyed the game between teams which featured two Americans each playing alongside North Koreans.

Following the match (which ended in a 110-110 tie), Rodman addressed Kim in a speech before tens of thousands of North Koreans. Rodman is a tribute to America; emotional and loving. He called Kim a “Friend for life!”

Later that evening the gentlemen shared an “epic feast,” with sushi and drinks. Ryan Duffy, a correspondent with VICE Media, was also on hand. Rodman’s trip to North Korea was in connection with an HBO series episode to be shot on location there. Duffy at one point invited Kim to visit the United States in the near future, a proposal met with noncommittal laughter from the world leader. Kim Jong-Un, according to a report from the Korean Central News Agency, said he, “hoped these sport exchanges would promote mutual understanding between the people of the two nations.”

At the Sunan airport in Pyongyang, Rodman declared it “amazing” that the North Koreans were “so honest.” He said that Kim Jong-Il, the young Kim’s father, and Kim Il-Sung the founder of the North Korean government, and Jong-Un’s grandfather, were “Great leaders.” “He’s proud, his country likes him. Not like him, love him, love him,” Rodman said “Guess what, I love him! The guy’s really awesome.”

The Times of India published an interesting point of view on the meeting of the basketball aficionados. It reported Rodman as saying, “Kim is like his grandfather and his father, who are great leaders. He is an awesome kid, very honest and loves his wife so much.”

At this point, Dennis Rodman may have more knowledge of the personal side of Kim than any other American. There is little known about his high fashion wife, Ri Sol-Ju, who was unknown globally until just last July.

Critics rightly will mention the North Korean prison camps where enemies of that state are held for life, sometimes tortured, while their family members are held as well. The North Korean people are hungry and apparently only the military receives relief. Rodman had only this to say: “We do the same thing,” perhaps a reference to the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, the American detention camp in Cuba, and the waterboarding extensively used there.

Photo: UKGuardian

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • John Lake

    the editorial ax tends to diminish some of the final sentences. I predict the world will end on March 11, as Kim responds to joint military excercises conducted by South Korea, and the United States.

  • Dr Dreadful

    That’s a relief. I’ve got a dentist’s appointment on the 12th…

  • Clavitos

    Rodman was a great B-Ball player, no doubt about that. As a human being, he’s kind of a wierdo; I think Kim was just taking advantage of Rodman’s publicity magnet status to get himself some “good” face time in the world press.

    And Kim can use it: the Kims, grandfather, father and now the kid, have been rather unsavory characters on the world stage for three generations now. How appropriate that he would use Rodman, instead of say, Bill Bradley.

    Of course, Bradley’s much too smart to fall for it.

  • John Lake

    You may be giving the young Kim a little too much credit for planning and preparation. It seems as though Rodman made the arrangements with the HBO series episode in mind. The fact is it now seems that some NK internal political force has control over Kim Jong-Un, and may be punishing him for his high level of visibility. My prediction was hyperbole, but we might expect some real action.
    This in line with Secretary of State John Kerry and what some call “giddy optimism” over new talks in Iran. Those pundits are concerned that Kerry should travel to China, for some clear dialogue, and they might agree that Russia needs be consulted about the state of affairs in Pyongyang.

  • John Lake

    New sanctions on North Korea designed to prevent their further advancement toward nuclear weapon capacity are the strongest ever placed on a resistant nation. Since North Korea has been getting around financial sanctions by carrying massive sums of money in large briefcases, or suitcases, these containers will now be subject to inspection. This restriction is sure to anger the already threatening North Korean administration.

  • Clavitos

    You’re probably right about Kim’s youth and lack of sophistication, John, but don’t forget who molded and trained him all his life; and I bet those two (his grandfather and father) mean as snakes as they were, would have beaten it into him if necessary.

    But in any case, my reference to Kim in that context was all-encompassing, to include all his handlers and party apparatchiks who actually run the NK show.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    At some point, Dennis Rodman should try to talk some sense into the head of the North Korean leader. Maybe the basketball forum is a way to do that. There is a practical logistical problem. Suppose the North Koreans decided to detain Rodman. That could become a very difficult situation for our State Department to resolve.

  • John Lake

    It seems odd that the news is calling the South Korean/American military maneuvers a response to Kim’s threats, when in fact that have been planned for months and are regularly scheduled this time of year.
    Last year, when Jong-Il was the N.K. leader, the drills aimed artillery toward the North, but far short of any danger to that area. When Jong-Il complained, the armaments were pointed in another direction, to avoid any appearance of aggression. So, now if we direct any shelling to the north, we will be in fact provocative.
    In another related issue, our new Sect. of State, John Kerry, was supportive of Rodman’s visit and intentions, stating that the American people want closer ties with North Korea.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    I agree. We have to keep all options open when it comes to N.Korea.

  • John Lake

    The U.S. and South Korea are to blame for increased tensions in the region and must apologize for their provocations, the official Korean Central News Agency said, citing a statement from the National Defense Commission. Kim Jong Un’s regime yesterday said negotiations are possible only after North Korea has enough nuclear weapons to deter an attack.