Political Animal


March 03, 2013 10:22 AM North Korea wants peace: Kim Jong Un expert and former NBA Defensive Player of the Year

By Samuel Knight

Dennis Rodman appeared on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos this morning to talk about the VICE magazine-arranged trip he took to North Korea, where he spent a significant amount of time with Kim Jong Un.

The exchange was as bizarre as one would expect it to be.

Rodman, who at times was fairly incoherent, called Kim “a great guy,” and a “humble man” — albeit one who “loves power.”

He did make news, however.

The seven time NBA rebounding champion — described as knowing more about the 28-year old autocrat than anyone at the CIA — said that Kim wants President Obama to make direct overtures to North Korea.

“’I don’t wanna do war.’ He said that to me,” Rodman stated, saying that Obama should reach out because “the kids only 28 years old.”

He also said that Kim’s violent rhetoric toward the U.S. “comes from his father,” and that he and Obama can find common ground in at least one respect:

“He loves basketball. Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there.”

VICE co-founder and CEO Shane Smith, who spoke to Stephanopolous from New York, admitted that Rodman’s trip was “a crazy story,” but said that the junket was “reminiscent of ping-pong diplomacy.”

Despite the fact that Rodman declined to talk about North Korea’s labor camps, claiming that “people there respect [Kim] and his family” without speculating what might happen to them if they declined the opportunity to be deferential, Smith rejected Stephanopoulos’ suggestion that the visit was “a propaganda coup” for North Korea.

The whole world knows what’s going on there, Smith said, and North Korean state media will say whatever they want, anyway.

He pointed out that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra has visited Pyongyang, too.

“Was that a propaganda coup? I don’t think so.”

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • c u n d gulag on March 03, 2013 11:25 AM:

    Basketball Diplomacy.

    Makes you wonder why we bothered with Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, when we could have had Dennis Rodman as Secretary of State?

    Ok, not really.

    Never mind yakking about war, Lil' Kim needs to feed his
    people, and not just the ones wearing uniforms.

    And take a look at a photo of North Korea at night, from a satellite - except for the Capitol, it looks like the whole nation didn't pay their electric bill.
    And they didn't need to pay any bill, since most areas never had any electricity in the first place.

    Those poor starving people are living in the Stone Age, and their loony-tune leader's trying to stay relevant, and get attention, in the world by shooting-off nukes, which, thankfully, fizzle and fall.
    Too bad one doesn't land on his feckin' head.

  • mudwall jackson on March 03, 2013 11:52 AM:

    a humble man who loves power?

    says captcha: clueso arrived

  • Bo on March 03, 2013 12:37 PM:

    Poor Denny! Apparently, the ball-jockey can't tell the difference between "respect" and "fear". Therefore, he really isn't bright enough to have an informed opinion about anything. Shame on ABC for wasting airtime on this interview. Rodman may as well have been talking about his short-lived marriage to Carmen Electra rather than his North Korea trip.

  • troglodyte on March 03, 2013 2:37 PM:

    Its not as silly as it sounds. Rodman is inarticulate and not a diplomat, but how sophisticated can Kim Jong-Un be for inviting him as a diplomatic maneuver? One has to think that the new young leader is testing strategies for holding power, and really doesnt have a clear idea what to do. But consider this. Having a friendly meeting with a tall black man in Pyongyang projects a certain symbolism to the domestic market in North Korea, does it not? We dont connect Dennis Rodman with Barack Obama, but an ordinary North Korean might. There may be an opening for reducing tensions, if the US is patient.