Perhaps unsurprisingly to critics of the unsanctioned trip to North Korea, Dennis Rodman issued a written apology to the family of Kenneth Bae for his comments during the now damning interview he did on CNN last week. The apology had to happen since the media deliberately misonstrued his words to make it look like he said he doesn’t give a damn about the fact Mr. Bae is being held prisoner by the North Korean government. As for why he said what he said, Rodman said it was from stress (understandable) and that he was drunk when he did the interview.
As for the trip itself, former NBA star and humanitarian Charles Smith, who joined Rodman along with 5 other players defended the trip during the interview. It wasn’t until after they played against the North Korean national team that he and the other players realized they were being used for propeganda by the North Korean government. The vets lost the game but when you consider it hasn’t been that long since most of them played in the NBA (it’s been almost 19 years for Rodman) it quickly became clear the game was fixed to ensure they would lose. They parted ways with Rodman upon landing in Beijing where they presumably took a connecting flight back to the U.S.
Unlike most folks who take the rhetoric CNN, MSNBC and Fox News spews daily at face value, I’ve learned to look at stories like this using a far less pre-biased lens. The other article I wrote last week is one such example. Unlike most who refused to give Dennis Rodman the benefit of the doubt, I waited until all the facts were revealed before commenting on the trip and its intent.
For starters, what Rodman intended and what ended up happening were two different things. As everyone knows he is a personal friend of Kim Jong Un. This is a clearly established fact. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview on CNN (Speaking of which, I noticed he was being very careful with how he said what he said) yesterday, if you’re going to go to North Korea you need to have a clearly defined objective going in. Judging from the interviews with the players who went to the most secretive country on the planet when they landed in Beijing, it ended up being nothing more than a dog and pony show.
As possibly the only American who can openly say they are a close friend of The Supreme Leader of North Korea, his value to the rest of the west should not be overlooked just because he’s not a politician or a diplomat. I would not be opposed to him making return trips to North Korea either. I think it’s becoming more and more apparent there is a growing curiousity of the outside world by North Koreans. When Rodman said the door will one day open it was obvious he was being sincere. I also said in my previous blog the U.S. is in open talks with Iran. If the U.S. can open communications with Iran for the first time in over 35 years, why not North Korea?
The question deserves serious consideration. With a diplomat like John Kerry, anything’s possible.