Rodman Returns to North Korea to See Kim – NYTimes.com

What do you make of this latest round of “basketball diplomacy” where the Worm meets Kim?

“I’m not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae,” Mr. Rodman, a Basketball Hall of Fame member, told Reuters in a telephone interview. “I’m just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour.” Mr. Kim is known to be a fervent basketball fan, and the two watched a game together during Mr. Rodman’s previous visit.

via Rodman Returns to North Korea to See Kim – NYTimes.com.

At the same time, U.S. Special Envoy Robert King’s invitation was rescinded. (He is a BYU graduate and spoke at the Kennedy Center last year.)

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11 thoughts on “Rodman Returns to North Korea to See Kim – NYTimes.com

  1. rgettys says:

    I feel like a tiny crack to open a door can go a long way in the future. I do not agree with the politics of North Korea, or the leadership with Kim Jung Un but leaders lead countries for a limited time, and one day the small basketball diplomacy might pay off to form ties with a changed North Korea.

  2. While I do not agree with Rodman’s approach to this situation, namely his “friendship” with a tyrannical dictator, I do think that any sort of good will the US can manage to muster with North Korea is a good thing. The US should use any possible soft-power means it can to tame or influence an out-of-control state, including using Rodman as a political pawn.That being said, I worry that Rodman is effectively being used as a political pawn by North Korea even more than he is being used as a pawn by the US. Rodman is clearly naïve at best about the situation in North Korea. For example, “During his visit to North Korea in March, Mr. Rodman told reporters in Pyongyang that North Koreans ‘love’ Kim Jong-un, adding, ‘I love him — the guy’s awesome.'” It is high time that Rodman uses his position for good and does some real “basketball diplomacy” rather than just using the trip as an opportunity to visit a “good friend.” I wonder if Rodman will still think Kim is an awesome guy if Kim decides he doesn’t want Rodman to leave or Rodman does something to offend him.

  3. shannonmelissa22 says:

    It is hard to justify having a friendship with such a ruthless dictator, however, I can see how useful it might be for Rodman to keep that friendship. Since he has been used as a US representative in the past (at the Vatican), Rodman must be the kind of person who is able to create friendships without politics in the way. That being said, I think that it is a good idea for the US to have someone who they can go to who is on good terms with Kim. I am not naive enough to believe that politics don’t matter, but I do like the thought of these two men having a friendship regardless of their political affiliations or nationalities.

  4. trawson7 says:

    I agree with the above comments- I think that a lot of good can come from genuine, personal relationships between two figures who are as politically opposed as these two are. You could argue that Reagan and Gorbachev were friends, and that relationship was influential in bringing about the end of the Cold War. Although Rodman is not a political figure as Reagan was, he still is seen as an American, and any good opinions that North Korea can begin to form about the United States of America may prove to be significant in the future.

  5. madeleineary says:

    I think that naive is just the word for Rodman. It seems to me that, like many other celebrities, he is out of touch with the reality and consequences of his behavior. A very interesting article which came out this week on the death of Rochus Misch, the bodyguard of Adolf hitler, illustrated that even the most maniacal of dictators can be personable and deceptively sensitive to others’ needs. I suspect that Kim Jong-Un is just this way. People in power, like him and Assad and Hitler, are savvy. Woe to the fool who falls into their honey-lined trap. This, it seems, is the unfortunately deluded Rodman.

  6. Joshua Dennis says:

    I mostly agree with the statements that have been made so far. Any little bit of diplomacy, whether it be the traditional politically based or merely “basketball diplomacy,” as Rodman calls it, could potentially help the U.S.’s relationship with North Korea in the long run. However, with his little visits, Rodman could also be undermining the U.S.’s authority and soft power, especially in light of the fact that the U.S.’s official envoy for freeing Kenneth Bae has been denied entry to the country. Kim Jung-un could see this as an opportunity to “flaunt” his power in the U.S.’s face, as he allows his American “friend” to come for a fun visit while ignoring the U.S.’s concerns for the imprisoned missionary. So in my eyes, it remains to be seen whether Rodman’s friendship with Kim will bear any good fruit in regards to the U.S.’s relationship with the dictator, and the initial optimism, however slight, of the previous statements seems a little hasty to me.

  7. bfissa says:

    I’m not in a position to judge Mr. Rodman’s motivations, but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say theses visits will undermine the influence of the United States.

    Shortly after Rodman announced his intentions to return, North Korea rescinded an invitation to an American diplomat who had planned to try to secure the release of Bae. Rodman’s visits in North Korea are unquestionably hampering US efforts to secure the release of Bae and try to protect human rights.

    Rodman’s visit is now over, and there has been no change to the situation of an American citizen stuck there. While I recognize that diplomacy takes time, we should seriously consider if Dennis Rodman is the figure we prefer represent American interests. While I want to believe that a friendship between an American and Kim Jong-un could have some positive effects, the denial of an American official entry because of Rodman’s visit seems to suggest we can’t have it both ways: we either have diplomats or Rodman represent the US.

    Well I suspect Rodman is well intentioned, he should recognize the serious situation that exists in North Korea and consider ending trips there until the situation improves.

    • Taylor Shippen says:

      The argument that Rodman is being used as a pawn by North Korea seems to be somewhat contradictory; given the lengths that the regime is willing to go to deceive its people it seems unlikely that Mr. Rodman could produce much more positive PR than anything else the North Koreans spin up for the population. It’s not really in North Korea’s interest to get their population worshipping Americans anyway (conflicting messages). As for North Korea’s leaders, I doubt that the military’s loyalty is heavily influenced by an American basketball player that comes to Korea every once in awhile. Most of North Korea’s foreign policy is dictated by domestic politics, and it’s difficult to see how Mr. Rodman could be negatively influencing the internal institutions.

      On the other hand, because Mr. Kim is the head of an autocratic regime, that developing relations with a US athlete can be a double edged. When only a few key actors matter, changing their perception makes a difference. An offhanded comment made by Rodney could be interpreted as the opinion of many Americans, and that is dangerous. Still, to draw a direct correlation between the diplomat’s failed visit and Rodney’s visit is a bit premature. We have no evidence that the two events were related; it’s probable that the diplomats visit was canceled for entirely domestic reasons.

      Sure, Rodman is no Clinton when it comes to persuasive diplomatic skills, but when there is no dialogue at all between US and Korean leaders, we have to start somewhere. Having an argument about LeBron’s performance under pressure might be a nice break from Mr. Kim’s high maintenance wife.

      • jmmorgan242 says:

        I think Taylor struck a chord when he said, “an offhanded comment made by Rodman could be interpreted as the opinion of many Americans…” Do we really want our nation to be represented by Dennis Rodman? While I appreciate both Rodman’s efforts at diplomacy, and his constant claims that he has nothing to do with Kenneth Bae or the American government, and like others have said before, I’m glad that the North Korean leader can enjoy something about America, that’s a small glimmer of hope for the future, but at the same time, his American best friend is an incredibly…unique individual whose persona represents neither America nor the sport of basketball. If I were going to choose one American to send out and represent all American citizens to the rest of the world, Dennis Rodman would not be my first round draft pick.

        However, represent our nation to the North Koreans he will. My fear is that Rodman’s flamboyance is being used merely to further stock Kim’s arsenal of rhetoric against the capitalist world. See what capitalism will do to your children?

  8. haleyroberts says:

    I agree that Mr. Rodman’s actions could be hampering the progress of freeing Kenneth Bae. He may be an American citizen but he is not trained in diplomacy. He is there to talk about basketball, not the human rights violations or the nuclear dilemma. He is ignorant to the situation at hand. I also think it is ominous that his trip is sponsored by a non-American company, who in the past showed less than honorable intentions.

  9. heartleeharman says:

    It seems a little unbelievable that Rodman is actually “friends” with the dictator of North Korea, I don’t actually think that his visits to the country will result in a larger degree of diplomacy or will it relieve the tensions between the two governments. He is not talking politics with them, he is talking basketball. He was invited there to satisfy the people’s demand for entertainment, for normalcy, to put on the illusion of connecting with the world. It’s possible that the North Korean government will use Rodman as an example of how “bad” Americans are, but I think it’s more likely that they merely want to put on a show of being more open and progressing with the world. Either way, Rodman’s presence in North Korea will not help increase diplomacy and it certainly isn’t helping Mr. Bae.

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