Former NBA player Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Thursday accompanied by a documentary crew. This is Rodman’s third trip to the nation within this year. During his trips to the country, Rodman has become very close to its leader, Kim Jong-un. Rodman has received a lot of criticism for his friendship with the controversial leader but has defended the relationship, stating that Kim is a “very good guy”, and that he is bringing two countries together with his “basketball diplomacy”.
There is a lot of speculation about what Dennis Rodman is really doing in North Korea. For some, it is hard to comprehend what the 52 year old former basketball player finds so appealing about his visits to Kim Jong-un.
There is not much known about the early life of Kim Jong-un. The son of North Korea’s former military leader Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un took over power of North Korea following his father’s death in 2011. Kim Jong-un’s uncle was a mentor to him and helped him transition into the leadership role. Jang Song Thaek, Kim’s uncle was executed last week for supposed treason. The execution has left a soar taste in the mouths of many, both in North Korea and abroad. The fact that Dennis Rodman could take a trip to North Korea after such an incident has many people questioning what is on his mind.
Rodman claims that this trip has nothing to do with politics but will be about an exhibition basketball game that will be held for Kim Jong-un’s birthday. On Friday, Rodman held tryouts for players for the North Korean team. The game is supposed to include some American players; however, Rodman has reported that some of the American players are afraid to take the trip. The game is to be held on January 8th in Pyongyang, North Korea. With this exhibition game, Rodman plans to use his basketball diplomacy to unite the two countries in love.
Rodman’s first trip to North Korea was ill-timed as well. Dennis Rodman first visited North Korea in February, during a period when tensions were high between the U.S and North Korea because of nuclear tests the former was carrying out.
Relations between the United States and North Korea do not seem to deter Dennis Rodman. According to him all types of politics do not apply to him since he is not an official Diplomat to the U.S and North Korea. He states that he is only working towards proving that, “sport has the power to rise above all issues.”
The Kim Jong-un that Dennis Rodman describes is an all together nice guy who is probably just miss represented. In an interview in September, in which he was announcing his intentions for this trip, Dennis Rodman stated that he is trying to open the minds of everyone to who Kim Jong-un really is. Directing a comment to President Obama and other political leaders, Rodman states,” You don’t have to talk about politics. Meet him or even give him a call. That’s all he wants.”
Though the roster of American basketball players who will be involved in the exhibition game in Pyongyang is not complete, Dennis Rodman is positive that the game will proceed as planned. For those that are fearful to venture to North Korea Rodman’s assurances may not be sufficient. Like a true diplomat he soothes their fears with his words, “don’t be afraid man, it’s all love, it’s all love here.”
By Earnestine Jones