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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Richard Paul from: Newport Beach, CA
    January 09, 2014 4:25 PM
    Dennis is a total embarrassment to the U.S. Although his fame has faded as a Great Basketball player, his desire to get back into the "limelight lost" is poorly chosen. He apparently does not have the brains for this. Whatever respect he earned in the NBA is severely and probably irreparably tarnished by his conduct in this matter. He should be ashamed that his actions have cast his country in such a bad light.

    by: Arisa
    January 09, 2014 4:18 PM
    Maybe if people stopped attacking North Korea then maybe they wouldn't be so defensive.

    by: Stephen Real from: Columbia, USA
    January 09, 2014 4:16 PM
    Do they want peace or do they want us to nuke north Korea off the map?

    by: Luther Cummings III from: United States
    January 09, 2014 4:14 PM
    D. Rodman is the bad apple in our barrel. He has put a bad name on America and Americans.
    If I could be there when he and the other players get off the plane. I would spit in his face and tell him to go back to the only friends he has left. North Korea.
    These players are not Americans. They do not represent the USA only themselves and there pocket book.
    God Bless America and Leave No Americans Behind........

    by: trickydick from: us
    January 09, 2014 4:13 PM
    He used to be such a nice boy! Heh,heh,heh!!

    by: brett pruittenski from: texas
    January 09, 2014 4:08 PM
    Rodman doesn't have a clue that he's nothing more than a court jester and political tool of a despot. He's hideous and they're probably laughing at him behind his back.

    by: flafreethinker from: clearwater fl.
    January 09, 2014 3:57 PM
    Rodman is insane. I hope he remains in North Korea. That way, he won't get any media attention. That seems to be his main concern.

    by: Scottyd-MB from: Los Angeles
    January 09, 2014 3:57 PM
    The guy is a whack job, has no idea what he's doing.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.