And so the “basketball diplomacy” continues. Dennis Rodman, ever the showman, gave a quick “Happy Birthday” performance to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un today in Pyongyang, as a crowd of unsuspecting Koreans and U.S. basketball players clapped on.
Reuters reports the North Korean leader was pleased and appeared to smile. Rodman and a team of former NBA players were in the capital for an exhibition game to celebrate the leader’s birthday. “It went very well for everyone involved,” Rodman said of the event to Sky News. “We can coexist with each other if we take a deep breath.”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is feeling the love for Rodman and his fourth visit to the country, especially after an interview yesterday with CNN in which Rodman seemed to imply an American citizen, missionary Kenneth Bae, was responsible for his own captivity in the country:
“Kenneth Bae did one thing. ... If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why?’... ‘I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think. I'm saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them ... they dared to do one thing, they came here.”
The trip also comes weeks after the execution of Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, for charges of treason.