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Dennis Rodman, Kim Jong-un two peas in a pod

Viewpoints Editor

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 23:01


Alexander F. Yuan | Associated Press

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman is followed by journalists as he arrives at the Capital International Airport in Beijing from Pyongyang, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. A squad of former basketball stars led by Rodman had a friendly game with North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang.

Is Dennis Rodman relevant to international politics?

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Five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman’s basketball career was marked by on-the-court tenacity and a penchant for making headlines due to his off-the-court antics. Even though his playing days are long over, Rodman just can’t seem to stay out of the news.

Since he’s run out of orifices to pierce and his brief career as a pro wrestler is on hiatus, Rodman finally has enough time to pursue a bromance with North Korea’s despotic leader, Kim Jong-un.

The friendship between the two lunatics blossomed in February 2013 when Rodman and an entourage of Harlem Globetrotters played an exhibition game in the isolated nation. Rodman was sufficiently seduced by Kim’s superficially glamorous lifestyle and the country’s Potemkin villages to make three subsequent visits, lauding the murderous dictator as “a very good guy.”

Although it’s difficult to confirm any news from north of the demilitarized zone, this December noted “very good guy” Kim Jong-un more than likely had his uncle executed via firing squad as part of a potentially ongoing and highly-publicized purge within the regime.

Most recently. Rodman brought a group of former NBA B-listers to North Korea to celebrate Kim’s 31st birthday with a high-profile pick-up game against Korean players in front of an arena-sized audience. Dennis even led the raucous crowd (made up of confidants Kim hadn’t recently executed) in singing “Happy Birthday to You” to the tyrant.

In the lead up to the revelry, a CNN host asked Rodman to opine on Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp by the paranoid regime on trumped up accusations of sedition.

Rodman, clearly not understanding or particularly caring about the facts of the case, defended Bae’s imprisonment. Foreign policy analysts and human rights advocates worldwide criticized him for his tone-deaf comments about the American political prisoner abroad.

Several days later, Rodman offered a contrite apology saying, “I had been drinking. It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It's not an excuse, it's just the truth.”

Glad you could clear that up for us, Dennis. Who among us, after a night of heavy drinking, hasn’t befriended a murderous and psychotic despot with a small nuclear arsenal and defended his thug regime for trampling on the rights of its citizenry? After all, when you’re drunk, everyone’s your friend, and if lunatic tin-pot dictators happen to be nearby, cozying up to them can’t be too intimidating, regardless of how many mass graves and human rights violations they’re responsible for.

Rodman beclowns himself with his globe-trotting antics in North Korea, but this is nothing out of character coming from a man who wore a wedding dress to his own wedding. I’d ask you to imagine the reaction on the altar from his future wife, but Rodman was marrying himself. In the United States, a person can’t legally marry themselves, but this was an immaterial fact to Rodman’s publicity stunt.

The Kim family’s reign of terror on the people of North Korea is just as inconsequential to Rodman’s most recent publicity stunt.

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