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  • Jul 22, 2014
  • Updated: 10:25pm

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un is the supreme leader of North Korea, the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il (1941–2011) and the grandson of Kim Il-sung (1912–1994). Following his father's death in 2011, he was announced as the "Great Successor" by North Korean state television. He has held the titles of the First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, and also a presidium member of the Central Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea.

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BASKETBALL DIPLOMACY

Rodman arrives for Kim’s birthday game; reveals death threats over North Korea visits

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 5:29pm

Dennis Rodman arrived for his fourth trip to North Korea on Monday and said that a game he and other former NBA players are planning in North Korea will be a “birthday present” for one of their most unlikely fans: leader Kim Jong-un.

Rodman’s squad – featuring ex-All Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker – will play against a team of North Koreans on Wednesday, which is believed to be Kim’s birthday.

The marshal [Kim] is actually trying to change this country in a great way. I think that people thought that this was a joke
Dennis Rodman

Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, guard Doug Christie and Charles D Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, along with four streetball players are also on the squad.

Rodman said he was glad to be in North Korea for the game, though he said he had gotten death threats for his repeated visits. He said proceeds from the game would go to a charity for the deaf in North Korea.

“The marshal is actually trying to change this country in a great way,” Rodman said of Kim, using the leader’s official title. “I think that people thought that this was a joke, and Dennis Rodman is just doing this because fame and fortune.”

Instead, he said, he sees the game as a “birthday present” for Kim and his country.

Watch: The dream team arrive in Pyongyang 

“Just to even have us here, it’s an awesome feeling. I want these guys here to show the world, and speak about North Korea in a great light,” he said. “I hope people will have a different view about North Korea.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement Monday night.

“The NBA is not involved with Mr Rodman’s North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the US State Department,” Stern said. “Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them.”

The game will be another milestone in Rodman’s surprising relationship with Kim, who rarely meets with foreigners and about whom very little is known outside of North Korea. Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in late 2011.

Rodman travelled to North Korea for the first time last February with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series. After spending time together, Rodman called Kim a “friend for life” and came back just before Christmas to hold tryouts for the North Korean basketball team, though he did not meet with Kim then.

Rodman has been given the red-carpet treatment on each of his trips, but visiting North Korea for any high-profile American is a political minefield. To keep the game itself friendly, the two sides will only play against each other in the first half, and then mix together in the second.

Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea since the two countries never signed a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean war. Thousands of US troops are still based in South Korea, and the Demilitarised Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.

Relations are also tense because of the North’s development of nuclear weapons and its threats to use them if a conflict breaks out with Washington or Seoul.

I’m not a president, I’m not a politician, I’m not an ambassador. I’m just an athlete

Rodman also has been slammed for not trying to use his influence with Kim to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary with health problems who is being held in North Korea on charges of committing “anti-state” crimes.

To make the trip more complicated, Kim’s once-powerful uncle was recently executed for a long litany of alleged crimes, including trying to divide the regime and usurp power from Kim. Although that has generated speculation abroad about the regime’s unity, North Korean officials say the execution settled the issue and there is no instability.

Rodman, however, says none of that is his concern.

“I’m not a president, I’m not a politician, I’m not an ambassador,” he said before arriving. “I’m just an athlete and the reason for me to go is to bring peace to the world, that’s it. That’s all I want, no money. I want no money, no money.”

Former Knicks player Smith said he hopes the game will lead to better relations between the two countries.

“It’s new being here, but overall the concept is not new,” he said. “The team is made up of a lot of guys who really care, that’s the most important, it’s not about bringing dream-teamers. It’s about guys who are coming that want to be a part of this, that care, and really that care about humanity.”

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This article is now closed to comments

jiawang@adb.org
Rodman is nothing more than a "useful idiot."
He is being used by the North Koreans and the Americans.
If the Americans are able to benefit from "basketball diplomacy," fine; if not, the US can deny Rodman played any part.
If the North Koreans benefits from "basketball diplomacy," fine; if not, they can say Rodman provided some needed comic relief.
Either way, Rodman is just a fool being used by North Korea and the US.
jeffrey.forsythe.52
Recently I viewed a documentary where a young N Korean man, who escaped to S Korea, told his story how he was born in a slave camp. At fourteen, he heard his mother and older brother discussing an escape and told on them. A few days later he was escorted to the courtyard to witness his mother's and brother's execution. This is N Korea today. On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party has treated its people exactly like this since 1949 and is still doing so.
People living in the West have not been allowed to know the truth
concerning the brutal Chinese Communist Party. It is a blood-thirsty
cult that has murdered over fifty million of its own people since 1949
and if it was not for the strength of the American military, it would
have eliminated Western civilization years ago. But because of
insatiable human greed the true nature of this evil Party has never been
exposed to us in the West. Just keep shopping.
 
 
 
 
 

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