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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
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 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 With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
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 Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
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.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

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