News / USA

Rodman Visit to North Korea Sparks Strong Reactions

Rodman Visit to North Korea Sparks Strong Reactionsi
X
January 15, 2014 5:05 PM
Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, made some people cringe at the idea that former the former basketball super star would call a leader who recently killed his uncle a friend. But while critics say the trip was useless, others disagree. Mariama Diallo reports.
Mariama Diallo
Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, made some people cringe at the idea that former the former basketball super star would call a leader who recently killed his uncle a friend. But while critics say the trip was useless, others disagree.

"I am sorry. I am not the President. I am not an ambassador. I am Dennis Rodman," he stated. He started with an apology but soon was overwhelmed with tears about the reaction to his recent trip to North Korea.  Rodman explained all he wanted to do was “Just show the world that we can actually get along and be happy for one day,” he said.

The idea wasn't popular in the U.S. Neither was it in neighboring South Korea where social media comments about his trip were not always complimentary.. But all along, Rodman said he was not interested in politics.

Although he did sing happy birthday to North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.

Dan Pinkston is Deputy Director for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group. He said the basketball player meant well. “Dennis Rodman is a private citizen. Sportsmen going there are demonstrating to the North Korean leadership and North Korean people that Americans and others are not evil,” he explained.

Michael O'Hanlon, at the Brookings Institution, grew up watching basketball.  He said the brouhaha around Rodman’s trip is a commotion over nothing. "For those of us who have watched his career, I believe he’s acting the way Dennis Rodman always does," he said.

O’Hanlon said the important thing is what the world has learned about the young North Korean leader. And it should be taken seriously. “I think we’ve learned that he’s willing to be brutal, that he is his grandfather’s grandson and his father’s son. He’s acting in the Kim tradition. This is not a nice group of people," O'Hanlon noted. "They have ruled over the last Stalinist regime on Earth. They are as brutal as anyone on the planet in that period of time.”

Although there was never any evidence that Kim Jong Un was going to be different, O’Hanlon said he was hoping Mr. Kim would be a reformist considering his western education. “Unfortunately this execution of his uncle, who was the closest to China as anybody in the North Korean Ruling elite as far as I understand, is probably a bad sign because that suggests that even a person who’s open to reform is not going to be tolerated,” he stated.

O'Hanlon said Rodman or not, sports diplomacy can't do much for a country like North Korea. But a vision of a different kind of relationship with the country, he said, is worth exploring.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Darrel Cummings from: Missouri, USA
January 15, 2014 3:33 PM
Michael O'Hanlon is another non-Korean speaker caught in this reformer/nonreformer mindset. Their conclusions are to be ignored. The regime needs militarism in order to justify itself. Watch B.R. Meyer's free book lecture on C-SPAN's internet, read the articles of Andrei Lankov, or buy the books. You do not compromise with the Regime. You contain it militarily and you do not sanctions bust it like the sponsors of these trip has done.
In Response

by: Confucius from: China
January 16, 2014 1:07 PM
That is Kim Jong Un's #1 personal bodyguard in the background of the video frame visible above this article. He was also previously Kim Jong-Il's #1 bodyguard, accompanying him on trips to China. He does not appear in the still photos released by North Korean media showing Rodman, Kim, and the interpreter.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs