File this one under news of the weird and despicable. Noted American diplomat basketball star Dennis Rodman paid a visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, where he and leader Kim Jong Un had a grand ol’ time getting drunk and watching basketball together.
It’s not a joke, and there are already many stories criticizing the eccentric former NBA player and the crew from HBO’s VICE media, who were along for the trip. Rodman, along with a few members of the Harlem Globetrotters, were there on a self-described mission of “basketball diplomacy,” ostensibly to run a camp for North Korean children. The Globetrotters present joined in with North Koreans in a basketball game, followed by carousing with Kim Jong Un.
But their many media comments from the trip show a disturbing lack of regard for the starving, famine-ridden majority trapped under the dictatorial Kim rule. From the Associated Press:
After the game, Rodman addressed Kim in a speech before a crowd of tens of thousands of North Koreans, telling him, "You have a friend for life," [VICE spokesman Alex] Detrick said.
At a lavish dinner later, the leader plied the group with food and drinks and round after round of toasts were made.
"Dinner was an epic feast. Felt like about 10 courses in total," [VICE correspondent Ryan] Duffy said in an email to AP. "I'd say the winners were the smoked turkey and sushi, though we had the Pyongyang cold noodles earlier in the trip, and that's been the runaway favorite so far."
Duffy said he invited Kim to visit the United States, a proposal met with hearty laughter from the North Korean leader. …
"We knew that he's a big lover of basketball, especially the Bulls, and it was our intention going in that we would have a good will mission of something that's fun," [VICE founder Shane] Smith said. "A lot of times, things just are serious and everybody's so concerned with geopolitics that we forget just to be human beings."
Now, it’s worth remembering a few things about North Korea: first of all, most of its people are starving, so those comments about the lavish feast are beyond out of touch. In fact, Gawker had a pretty astounding post yesterday contrasting the Americans’ tweets of bonhomie with heartbreaking photos of starving North Korean children. Click here if you can handle some truly jarring pictures.
Second of all, it’s rather odd for an American to characterize himself as North Korea’s “friend for life” when that country has spent recent months essentially gearing up for armed conflict with the U.S. Just February 12, it was reported that North Korea had tested a nuclear weapon under ground, claiming they just had to, because the U.S. is evil, and they make North Korea angry, and stuff.
North Korea announced earlier today that it successfully tested a miniaturized nuclear device underground, according to state media.
Official state media said the test was conducted in a safe manner and is aimed at coping with "outrageous" U.S. hostility that "violently" undermines the North's peaceful, sovereign rights to launch satellites. Unlike previous tests, North Korea used a powerful explosive nuclear bomb that is smaller and lighter, state media reported.
North Korea kept up its belligerent talk today, vowing more provocative actions.
If the U.S. "makes this situation complex in hostility, we will come up with second and third reactions," North Korea said in a statement.
The regime blamed the nuclear test on the United States.
"Originally we didn't have to test the nuclear bomb and we didn't plan to," the statement said. "The major purpose of this test is to show our anger to the hostile actions of the U.S. and show off our will and capability to protect our sovereign right to the end."
In other words, North Korea has zero interest in making nice with America, as illustrated by the Great Successor (as he is know) laughing in Rodman’s face upon his issuing an invitation to reciprocate the visit. Kim Jong Un wanted the opportunity to meet his basketball hero, and Dennis Rodman is insane. As for the members of the VICE media group…who knows why they participated so willingly in the festivities. Maybe they had armed guards forcing them to spout compliments to their host (who knows—this is a rogue state we’re talking about here). Frankly, I almost hope that it, because it’s a travesty that the group calls itself a friend to a man who is anything but one to the U.S. and his own people.