What Did Dennis Rodman Do to Piss Off North Korea?
To say the United States' relationship with North Korea is less than cordial would be a bit of an understatement. A draconian cesspool of a society with nuclear weapons perpetually aimed our way, North Korea and its leadership (Kim Jong-un, yo!) represent the antithesis of everything the United States stands for.
Obviously, in a utopian world, we would be able to settle our differences with Pyongyang in a civilized (read: non-nuclear) fashion. Now, if you were to put together your list of who you'd choose to represent the United States in peace talks with North Korea, what would that list look like?
I would imagine, of course, that it starts with the President. From there, it rolls down to various secretaries of governmental departments. Maybe you even roll through some of our wiser and more respected former national leaders, ex-presidents and the like.
Eventually, you continue to scroll down the list -- captains of industry, then highly respected college professors, then maybe a few television or radio personalities. Eventually, you figuratively thumb through most of society, arriving eventually at the Kardashians and the homeless.
Right about this point, somewhere between the homeless and, say, circus animals, is where you'd probably put Dennis Rodman on your fantasy "North Korean peace negotiator" big board.
So naturally, we all got a gander at this scene of Kim Jong-un entertaining Dennis Rodman (and vice versa) last week:
Yep, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the Worm, like peas and carrots.
Apparently, as the story goes, Kim Jong-un grew up a big basketball fan and was a youngster during the second trilogy of the Book of Michael Jordan, the one that cast Rodman as the power forward for three Chicago Bulls title runs between 1996 and 1998. So naturally, when the opportunity came to meet Rodman in person (Dennis made the trip overseas as part of a tour with a few of the Globetrotters), the pudgy little North Korean torture machine managed to take time out of his busy schedule of starving his citizens to watch some hoops with ol' D-Rod.
As you can see from the video above, the whole thing was a big hoot, a veritable laugh a minute. So chummy were Rodman and Kim Jong-un that to the naked eye, it appeared that indeed Rodman had cracked the code on getting North Korea to stand down on the nukes -- basketball, my friends, appeared to be the universal language of peace.
So when Rodman arrived back stateside last weekend, political expert George Stephanopoulos invited him onto his Sunday morning show to give us all the update on when North Korea would be dismantling their nuclear weapons and sending President Obama a fruit basket.
As it turns out, amidst all the chatter about the triangle offense and what Phil Jackson smells like, Rodman's conversation with Jong-un never got around to things like genocide and inflicting third-degree burns.
The obvious Rodman money shots during this segment with Stephanopoulos:
1:22 -- (when asked if he was aware of Jong-un's horrific human rights record) "One thing about that, you know, I didn't look at all of that right there. I understand what he's doin'; I don't condone that, I hate the fact that he's doin' that, but the fact is that's a human being...he let his guards down, he did one thing to me...he's been a friend."
I love how Rodman talks about starving, imprisoning and killing human beings as if it's some sort of vice or minor character flaw that he tolerates, the same way we all have a buddy in high school who hit on everyone's girlfriend when he got drunk but everyone just sort of put up with it because he was "our boy."
2:04 -- (on whether he believes that Jong-un is really a "great leader") "I saw in that country, I saw people respect him and his family. That's what I mean about that."
Of course, he fails to mention that if the citizens of North Korea don't respect Jong-un and his family, they will have a hot poker inserted into their rectums and be forced onto a six-month diet of sawdust and toilet water.
2:18 -- (on Jong-un's cruelty) "He's gonna change something, because he's got a different view. Because I sat with him for two days, and one thing he asked me to give Obama [a message]...he wants Obama to do one thing...call him. He said, 'Dennis, I don't want to do war.' He said that to me."
Um, it's been almost a week since this Rodman interview. How have we not had an Obama/Jong-un "Call Me Maybe" video yet? You're failing, Internet.
3:15 -- "He's very humble, very humble."
Clearly. You have to really be able to check your ego at the door if you're going to efficiently oppress millions of innocent people.
3:40 -- (on the past threats of Jong-un to "destroy the United States") "I think that's coming from his father."
Yep, Kim Jong-un has daddy issues.
4:05 -- "He's a great guy, he's just a great guy. If you just sit down and talk to him..."
Yes, he's a peach, Dennis.
All right, it was at about this point in the interview where Stephanopoulos pressed Rodman about his new BFF imprisoning 200,000 citizens and Rodman claiming we do the same thing in the United States. In other words, at this point, if Stephanopoulos had brought in Mike Tyson wearing nothing but a Darth Vader mask and a banana hammock, the whole scene would have actually become less weird.
So, after watching the Rodman interview, if you believe the Worm, it's conceivable to think that perhaps Kim Jong-un is just a misunderstood peace-seeker of a young adult, struggling to find his identity as the new leader of an oppressive nation. At least that's Rodman's read on the situation.
As it turns out, the CIA probably won't be hiring Rodman to interrogate the bad guys any time soon. According to reports on Thursday, just a week after Rodman ascertained that Kim Jong-un doesn't want war, North Korea publicly vowed to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon:
North Korea on Thursday vowed to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States, amplifying its threatening rhetoric hours ahead of a scheduled vote by U.N. diplomats on whether to level new sanctions against Pyongyang for its recent nuclear test.
An unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said the North will exercise its right for "a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors" because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against the North.
Although North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs and pre-emptive strikes, it is not thought to have mastered the ability to produce a warhead small enough to put on a missile capable of reaching the U.S. It is believed to have enough nuclear fuel, however, for several crude nuclear devices.
Apparently, Obama hasn't had time to make that phone call quite yet.
As for Rodman? WORST. DIPLOMAT. EVER.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.