Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dennis Rodman in North Korea — Can His Diplomacy Usher in World Peace?
Rodman has an unusual relationship with North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un.

By Luis Gomez
San Diego Union Tribune

Hours before Game 5 of the NBA Finals got underway in Oakland between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the prospect of NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman again traveling to North Korea on a diplomatic mission lit up basketball Twitter and beyond Monday.

Known for being such a hothead on the court, is it possible that Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” could usher in stability in this part of the world? He’s expected in the country soon.

Rodman was set to arrive in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital, on Tuesday but details and the exact purpose of his visit remained unclear as of Monday when CNN first broke the story. The U.S. State Department told CNN that it was aware of Rodman’s travel to North Korea but that he was not there in any official capacity.

His latest visit to North Korea — potentially his fifth so far — quickly drew interest from Americans captivated by his Kevin Bacon-esque connection to the leaders of the two countries whose missile deployments have garnered headlines in recent weeks: Kim Jong-Un and President Donald Trump.

Rodman was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” television show twice, once in 2009 and once in 2013. Trump fired Rodman in both seasons.

In 2013, Rodman reportedly visited North Korea at least four times, including one visit captured in a documentary in which he called the North Korean dictator “a friend for life.” Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen held captive by the regime, also credited Rodman for his release.

Rodman, whose NBA career started with the Detroit Pistons in 1986 and culminated with his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, has used basketball to disarm his critics and charm Kim, one of the most reclusive leaders in the world.

As details of his trip remained elusive, people wondered whether Rodman’s visit in North Korea was a unique opportunity for America to negotiate peace in the region or even broker a deal to release four Americans currently detained there. Not everyone was optimistic.

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