News / Asia

South Koreans Show Outrage Over Rodman's Pyongyang Trip

A protester wearing a mask depicting former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, attends a rally in central Seoul, South Korea, Jan.8, 2014, denouncing Rodman's visit to North Korea and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Kim's birthday.
A protester wearing a mask depicting former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, attends a rally in central Seoul, South Korea, Jan.8, 2014, denouncing Rodman's visit to North Korea and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Kim's birthday.
Junghwa BaekSeoyeon Je
American basketball star Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea is not winning him many friends in South Korea.

South Korean social media sites are filled with sneering comments about the former National Basketball Association All-Star - accusing him of going to North Korea for money and calling him names like “psychopath.”

One Twitter user wrote, “Dear North Korea: Rodman is a gift.  Happy (belated) holidays” @MangJang_chb(01.06).

Comments became especially angry after a video showed him singing “Happy Birthday” to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Rodman, who is on his fourth trip to North Korea, calls Kim his friend.  This time, he brought along a group of former NBA players and others to play basketball with North Korean players, an effort in what Rodman calls sports diplomacy.

  • Dennis Rodman sings Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, Jan. 8, 2014.
  • Dennis Rodman tips his hat as U.S. and North Korean basketball players applaud at the end of an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, Jan. 8, 2014.
  • Dennis Rodman cheers after a fellow basketball player makes a jump shot during a practice session with North Korean players in Pyongyang, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Dennis Rodman meets with former North Korean basketball player Ri Myung Hun at a practice session with U.S. and North Korean players in Pyongyang, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Dennis Rodman huddles with North Korean basketball players and fellow former NBA stars at a practice session in Pyongyang, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • A North Korean basketball player returns the scarf that Dennis Rodman was wearing and took off during a practice with North Korean and U.S. basketball players in Pyongyang, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Dennis Rodman stands up to leave after he and fellow U.S. basketball players completed a television interview at a Pyongyang hotel, Jan. 7, 2014.

South Koreans were skeptical.  “He is doing ding-dong diplomacy, which is useless.  If you are doing basketball diplomacy, you should have a result because time has passed pretty much since you met Kim Jong Un for the first time,” Wolf10 wrote on the Korean website “Daum”.

Rodman said the proceeds from the game would be used for helping the deaf.  But many were doubtful.  “Don’t you really believe that it will be used for his people, not Kim Jong Un?”  “JOEE” wrote on Korean website Nate.

And many South Koreans mocked Rodman’s on-camera outburst when a CNN journalist interviewed him about the trip and his relationship.  Rodman also indicated that Kenneth Bae, an American who has been held by North Korea for more than a year, had done something wrong to justify his detention.

One comment said, “I think it is not sports diplomacy to sing “Happy Birthday” to him [Kim].  If you do, you can’t be so sensitive when you got the question from Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor.”

Rodman has quite a number of fans in Korea, and many are disappointed by his trip to North Korea. 

One fan, “Dhqk” wrote, “When he was active in his basketball game, I was really a big fan of him whom is pitted against other center players very well.  But after his retirement, he seems to act as Kim Jong Un’s tool ...  I feel sad as a fan.”

The two countries have been divided for nearly 70 years.  Communist North Korea is considered one of the most isolated and repressive nations on the world, while democratic South Korea is among the wealthiest advanced nations.

Some South Koreans are angry that Rodman won’t discuss international concerns about North Korea, such as its nuclear weapons program and its poor human rights record. 

But a few posts saw a potential for good in the trip.  NAVER blogger “Ssminss80” wrote, “It is hard for us to get information about North Korea.  But, Rodman gave us information on how North Korea is.  It is not totally bad.”

Clll**** wrote, “It looks like [they are] just having fun.  Because North Korea’s treated him as a king, [a man] who is already a retired basketball player.  What if ... he wanted to dedicate to world peace and visit the North to conciliate and then become unified? He would deserve to win the Nobel Prize for peace."

But at least one blogger had a sarcastic warning for Rodman, “You have to be careful you don’t want to be like a Jang Sung Thaek who was executed by his nephew, Kim Jong Un.”

Below are more comments from South Korean media sites: 

“Is there no pride as an American??”
clie****(01.08 KST 21:31 )

“He is a Redman, not Rodman.”
s2ke****(01.08 KST 21:30 )

“I’m a Korean who lives in Boston.  This is not a funny thing.  U.S. [is]worried about Rodman’s action very seriously.  Once he gets a lot of media exposure [in North Korea], Americans will not consider North Korea to be a hostile country anymore.  The negative image of North Korea will disappear.  It’s not helpful at all for the policy against the North.”
arma****(01.08 KST 22:33)

“Let’s talk after he lives in North Korea for a year.”
Askh***(01.07 KST 12:06 )

“It seems the CIA or U.S. government gives him a mission for spying.”
Psy8**** (01.07 KST 14:00)

“I watched the interview with CNN.  He looks like a typical psychopath.”
SJ Kim @worldendboy (01.08)

“I hope he realizes the North should not exist on the earth.”
SH. Hong ‏@Reasia8912100 (01.08)

“They attended basketball game for Kim Jong Un’s birthday?  What a jerk.  They’re more like just poor old men.  Kim Jong-un gave them a lot of money.  I can’t understand either of them.”
@zdgd (01.08)

“In a word, Rodman is insane.  He knew what’s going on the North.  When he interviewed with CNN, it seemed a dog is barking.”
@SanChoLong15 (01.08)

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: moomoo from: usa
January 10, 2014 3:43 PM
by looking at his picture here I can't help... saying ...what an ugly guy !

by: steven from: Taiwan
January 10, 2014 7:28 AM
I consider that Korean was unified in future,but which conquer another,that's a lot space to think.

by: John Roberts from: Australasia
January 10, 2014 12:06 AM
For 70 years, no diplomacy has worked, and torture continues in North Korea. What Rodman is doing may seem insane and traitorous, but by befriending Kim Jong Un, he may in fact be able to condition him slowly into a more liberal, western thinking, and THEN approach more sensitive issues with a better result. It may be, in fact, a stroke of genius and more effective than anything else since Korea was divided by the west (let's not forget). Let's wait and see. It cannot really get much worse, now can it.
In Response

by: David from: The US
January 10, 2014 5:15 PM
"he may in fact be able to condition him slowly into a more liberal, western thinking, " You do understand that you are talking about Rodman here?

by: wag from: United States
January 09, 2014 11:23 PM
Kim Jong Un is a barbaric murderer. He is the one that should be shot....The hundreds and hundreds of innocent poor people that have been killed. He is another Hitler. And Poor Mr Rodman is no longer in the limelite....so he decides to be a insult and a disgrace to the free country he lives in. It says to me that it's OK whatever this communist does..."he's my friend". Maybe he should go over there and live, and he will probably end up like the communist's uncle when his favorite friend turns on him.

by: DJ
January 09, 2014 9:43 PM
He is another Hanoi Jane fonda
In Response

by: Dav from: Gangnam
January 11, 2014 8:20 AM
DJ - I understand what you're thinking, but I remember Fonda and her comments and actions go a lot farther than Rodman who we'll just consider an idiot. I could and never will forgive Fonda standing behind an anti-aircraft twin-Dishka machine-gun and saying "I wish I had one in my sights right now" meaning she wanted to kill an American.

by: butterball
January 09, 2014 9:41 PM
. U and Jane Fonda would make a great pair ur both crazy

by: df from: hall
January 09, 2014 8:13 PM
Rodman illiterare moron

by: Jay Locke from: Boston
January 09, 2014 5:46 PM
First thing that came to mind upon reading the title of this article: South Korea, welcome to the club.

Don't be confused brothers, you will find it very difficult to find an American who does *not* think Rodman is a fool. Read any American newspaper. He is a circus clown that we've tried to ignore for a long time now. Our only hope is that one of these days, North Korea will keep him. Many Americans despise the NK government as much as you do.

by: j.webster from: seattle
January 09, 2014 5:00 PM
re-posting comments from various websites is not journalism or generally even close to educated commentary. It is more appropriately termed "mob mentality in a semi-disorganized framework". Is that helpful?


by: Shawn from: California
January 09, 2014 4:36 PM
Jong Un and Rodman appear to be a lot alike.. 2 guys who feel vastly insecure and will both do anything to open the social spotlight on themselves. They'll ride this out as long as it gives them both attention. It's not about diplomacy or foreign relations - it's just "hey.. everyone's paying attention to me again!"
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More