Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 16:09
As millions of people in North Korea starved, Dennis Rodman’s plane touched down Aug 3 in Pyongyang to visit his “friend:” Dictator Kim Jong-Un. Rodman says they will “hang out” and reports to be on a “basketball diplomacy tour.”
Most of the world is divided about whether to be angry at Rodman for ignoring the atrocities performed by Kim Jong-Un’s government, or to be horrified that someone so seemingly ignorant is attempting diplomacy. From a different angle though, Rodman might be sharper than he appears and doing more good then he gets credit for.
The first reason for this is that this story exists. Rodman has managed to make North Korea's plight a headline by interacting with Kim Jong-Un. In nearly every bit of press on the issue, it mentions at least one of the horrible human rights atrocities which is going on. This shines light on North Korea’s issues.
If we assume Dennis Rodman is a human with a pulse, literacy and access to a personal computer, chances are he has searched himself and is aware of what is going on in North Korea. Given these assumptions, it doesn’t make sense to argue that he is unaware of Kim Jung-Un’s activities. With the social skills (or lack thereof) that Kim Jung-Un demonstrates, Rodman probably isn’t hanging out with Jung-Un for the fantastic conversation either. What makes the most sense is that Rodman is actually trying to do something good for both his country and the North Korean people by acting as an unofficial diplomat between the two countries.
As silly as “Basketball Diplomacy” sounds “Ping Pong Diplomacy” was the icebreaker between the United States and Soviet China after decades of diplomatic vitriol. Is it so inconceivable that Rodman wants to improve Kim Jung-Un’s opinion of the United States so that diplomacy done with actual diplomats will go more smoothly? After all, the U.S. government has been trying real diplomacy for decades and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere.
Maybe basketball diplomacy is just what North Korea needs.