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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NBA basketball star makes fourth visit to North Korea

(June 14) The former NBA star Dennis Rodman claims he was "just trying to open the door" as he visits North Korea for the fourth time. He said he would not raise the issue of Americans detained in the country.

However, Otto Wambier 22 , a US student who had been detained for a year and a half has been evacuated from the country for medical reasons. He has been in a coma for more than a year after falling ill shortly after his trial in Pyongyang in March of last year.
Rodman has called his visits "basketball diplomacy". On his last visit he sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim Jong Un at a stadium in the capital Pyongyang. Kim is a great basketball fan. He is one of the few Americans meeting with North Korean officials at this time of escalating tensions between North Korea the US and South Korea. Kim has been firing missiles regularly and also continues his nuclear program. Although there are four Americans being held now by North Korea, Rodman said he would not discuss them. Rodman said: "That is not my purpose right now. My purpose is to try and go over there and keep bringing sports to North Korea. That's the main thing. I'm pretty sure that I can do something that is positive." Rodman has called Kim a friend for life.
That Rodman is going back is a bit surprising as he kept getting intoxicated on the 2014 trip and it was reported at the end Kim refused to meet with him because of his condition. Rodman endorsed Donald Trump for president. Rodman shares Trump's anger at bad press. At the 2014 visit he said to CNN: “I don't give a s‑‑‑ what … I don't give a rat's a‑‑ what the hell you think. I'm saying to you look at these guys here,” he barked at CNN's Chris Cuomo. “Look at them. They're down here for one thing. They came here... We are the guys here to do one thing. We have to go back to America and take the abuse. Do you have to take the abuse that we're going to take? Do you, sir?” At the time, Charles Smith, another NBA player who accompanied Rodman said: "Dennis is a great guy, but how he articulates what goes on — he gets emotional and he says things that he’ll apologize for later." Shortly after he came back Rodman went into rehab. His agent, Darren Prince said that Rodman was "embarrassed, saddened, and remorseful for the anger and hurt his words caused." It seems that Kim Jong Un still considers him a friend.
When Rodman was asked if he had spoken to Trump about the trip he said: "I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy of the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need." Rodman's last trip had caused outrage in the US. Senator John McCain said at the time: "I think he is an idiot". Many claim that the visit provides positive propaganda for Kim and criticise Rodman for not bringing up Kim's human rights violations. The Rodman trip is being sponsored by PotCoin , a cybercurrency for legal marijuana according to the New Zealand Herald.
It remains to be seen what positive results if any come from the meeting. Rodman said he would discuss the results when he returned home.
Given the dismal level of relations between the United States and North Korea at least Rodman's visit, although not official, may at least help to ease tensions. It could even lead to some move by Kim to ease tensions. As another Digital Journal article notes Rodman gave Kim a copy of Trump's the Art of the Deal. No doubt some in America will see this as providing aid for the enemy!


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