The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a land and culture that has been incarcerated by extreme isolationism, consumed by fear, and controlled by a tyrannic family run rampant. Better known as North Korea, the prodigal son of the Korean Peninsula became immersed in the ways of the Soviet Union after Japan gave up its control. Ever since joining the backward ways of communism, North Korea has remained under a thick blanket of mystery, allowing little information in and out of the country.
Besides the Korean War and occasional threats, the United States and North Korea have had a limited relationship with little cooperation between the two sides. Leave it to the freak of the basketball universe, the only professional male athlete to sport a wedding dress, the tie-dye haired Dennis Rodman.
Rodman and the cynical leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, forged a relationship last summer based on Jong-un’s obsession with Rodman, Michael Jordan and the championship Chicago Bulls team they played for. That relationship turned into Rodman creating a basketball team to travel to North Korea and perform in front of the tyrant.
Rodman later received an outpouring of criticism and scrutiny for his relationship with Kim, his alleged “publicity stunt,” and remarks he made toward an American citizen being held captive by North Korea. He quickly apologized for his comments, blaming alcohol and political pressure for his actions.
It is so easy to ridicule Rodman for these actions based on his reputation as a “party animal” and alcoholic, but we shouldn’t be so quick to judge in this situation. Neither the United States or North Korea have made much of an attempt at diplomatic negotiations. The majority of communication between the two enemies has been Jong-un’s testing rockets and threatening nuclear weapons. Rodman has made a giant leap, gaining clearance for a group of basketball players and a production crew. He has found a common ground with the insane leader and is using it to build a relationship.
As far as the comments and Rodman’s birthday song to Jong-un goes, it was for self protection. Jong-un had his own uncle executed, so wouldn’t he have no problem doing the same to an American who bad mouthed him? Rodman has pulled plenty of stupid stunts, but the man realizes the dangers associated with the task. Jong-un is a ruthless dictator who does anything in his power to keep an iron fist gripped tightly around the entire country. If Rodman slipped up at any point, then Jong-un might have him imprisoned, or worse.
I am not trying to provide an excuse for Rodman or his actions, but based on the events, it looks like he wishes to continue his relationship with Jong-un and continue trips to North Korea. The possibilities of this odd friendship are as unpredictable as Rodman’s life and personality. Whether or not this will turn into something bigger, as in the diplomatic sense, is unknown, but I’m willing to watch. The NBA Hall of Famer may become the next Secretary of State. It is scary to think, but right now, he is the only person Jong-un will talk to.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @Smphil01, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com with any questions, comments, concerns and thoughts.