Dennis Rodman, diplomatic relations and a friendship with a dictator

Published On March 4, 2013 | By Kimberly Petalas

North Korea is well-known for being communist and heavily guarded country. It is impossible to visit the country without being invited or guided (you can’t go visit anything on your own and you have to be guided by a North Korean if you are a foreigner). So what made Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman important enough to visit the country?

It could be that Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, is obsessed with basketball and the NBA. He is reportedly a diehard fan of the 1990s Chicago Bulls for which Rodman played.

His love of the sport comes from his father, the deceased Kim Jong-Il. He was a big fan of the team and would watch games via satellite. He also made sure that all of his homes had basketball courts for his children to play. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brought Jong-Il a signed Michael Jordan basketball as a gift when she visited the country in 2000.

It may have been a bit more confusing for the North Korean family when they watched the NBA games and then North Korean basketball. According to a 2006 article from the San Diego Union-Tribune, North Korea has its own scoring for basketball games.

“Chinese media have reported that the country even developed its own scoring system, with three points for a dunk, four points for a three-pointer that does not touch the rim and eight points for a basket scored in the final three seconds. Miss a free throw, and it’s minus one,” the report explains.

While North Korean scoring may seem strange, Rodman’s relationship with Kim Jong Un may be even stranger.

In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Rodman told reporter George Stephanopoulos, “I don’t condone what he does, but as far as a person to person, he’s my friend.”

Kim Jong Un also requested that Rodman ask President Barack Obama to call him because he doesn’t want a war. So how does Rodman’s trip to North Korea help solve the international crisis? He claims the two leaders can start talks over some common ground.

“Kim loves basketball, Obama loves basketball…let’s start there.”

But the focus of the visit for many on the outside hasn’t been basketball differences. Rodman is getting a lot of negative reactions due to his visit because while visiting a dictatorship doesn’t seem like a good idea in the first place, becoming friends with the leader of one of the most notorious dictatorships in the world probably isn’t a good idea either. North Korea and Kim Jong-Un have been accused, among political crimes, of multiple human rights violations.

Do you think Rodman’s trip to North Korea was a good idea? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.

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About The Author

Kimberly graduated from Hofstra University in December 2012. She has been a sports fan her whole life and grew up around sports, whether it was playing or watching them. She started her writing career interning for her local newspaper, The Gardner News, where she currently works as a reporter. In college, Kimberly wrote for Long Island Report, as well as Her Campus Hofstra.