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Odds and Ends: the Rodman Edition

As the Worm and his motley crew of former NBA players turn in North Korea, Andrei Lankov writes in NK News that Rodman’s trip should be welcomed:

It is difficult to agree with optimists who sincerely claim that a less hostile and more forgiving international environment will make North Korean decision-makers reconsider their old and brutal ways. Less stick and more carrot is unlikely to make North Korea’s top leadership transform its country into a more benevolent dictatorship or liberal democracy. Pyongyang is well-aware of how risky reforms can be, and the leadership does not trust the outside world (regardless of how the outside world behaves).

Nonetheless, cultural exchanges with North Korea are very important. This is because exchanges influence the proverbial hearts and minds of North Koreans. For decades, North Koreans have been told that the outside world is destitute hell, characterized by extreme poverty and suffering. People inside the North are beginning to understand that they have been deceived, but it will do no harm if their suspicions are confirmed. The best way to do this is by exposing North Koreans to the outside world.

In this regard, Rodman’s presence in and of itself is important, as is his (and his entourage’s) contacts with North Korean officials and sportsmen. As my student Peter Ward has noted in soon-to-be-published research, for decades the oppression of black people within American society was a ubiquitous element in North Korean official narratives of America. Such ideas are difficult to sustain when the U.S. is headed by a black president, but Rodman’s visit is likely to make many North Koreans even more skeptical of official claims – and this is a good thing.

It might be a good thing. Who knows. I have my doubts about the effectiveness of people-to-people diplomacy as far as North Korea is concerned, but I understand the arguments for it. The problem is, the Worm might not necessarily be the best private diplomat:

- Rodman apparently doesn’t want any “negativity” about the visit. I think that’s going to be tough when he’s seemingly blaming Kenneth Bae for his captivity (see above) and likening North Korea’s gulag system to the American prison system and/or Gitmo (granted, he’s not the only former NBAer to do so). I will say in Rodman’s defense, though, that reporters keep on asking the guy questions they know he can’t answer, and Rodman keeps answering because he’s not the brightest light on the 15-man roster. I don’t recall reporters giving New York Philharmonic music director Lorin Maazel this much shit when his orchestra visited North Korea in 2008, and he said stuff that was just as outrageous. UPDATE: Not to mention the New York Philharmonic’s performance probably lent the North Korean regime a lot more legitimacy than Rodman’s trip. Rodman’s essentially a walking reality show, and I think most people view his trip to North Korea as an extension of Rodman’s personal nuttiness. The New York Philharmonic, on the other hand, is one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.

- At the CSM, Steven Borowiec has written a Q&A about Rodman’s trip.

- Could it be that Rodman’s, uh, Rodman might be the reason for his fondness for North Korea. Another strike again PIV, I suppose.

- A diplomatic source is telling Dennis Halpern that the Worm has brought luxury goods with him to North Korea, a violation of UN sanctions and punishable by a 20-season suspension from the public at large. For what it’s worth, though, I do believe that anyone who enjoys Jameson can’t be entirely bad. Smuggling Bushmills, however, should get you waterboarded in Gitmo.

- Three Korean golf courses were named to Golf Digest’s top 100 courses in the world. Anyang Benest (now Anyang CC) was the best Korean course at 40th place. A round there will set non-club members back KRW 257,000 on a weekend, not including the caddy.

- A long-time expat in Korea has reportedly been busted in Cambodia on charges of having sex with a 14-year-old boy.

- You know, Bumfromkorea, if Steven Seagal ever did become your governor, I believe that would make his wife Erdenetuya the first Mongolian first lady of a US state.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Is he crazy or just stupid?

  • Sumo294

    He is what I would call a sensory hedonist. He likes experiencing and seeing things never before experienced.

  • seoulite

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but based on that video I’d say 80% of the latter and 20% of the former. But perhaps I’m being overly generous.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    The island, girls, booze, and jet skis are a good explanation for his repeat visits. He could easily get those luxuries back in the 90s, but now he has to run off to NK to get his 52 yr old rocks off. I think Rodman’s a douche, but maybe Prof. Lankov is on to something. Though I don’t see why Rodman should be responsible for Kenneth Bae’s release (except for Rodman himself said he would get him released). Bae wasn’t kidnapped. He went to NK under false pretenses and now he is paying the price.

    And I do agree that the US needs to straighten out its human rights record if it insists on criticizing others’. Gitmo, civilian drone casualties, shooting down and refusing to apologize for Iran Air 655… If NK had done these things, the US would be sure to explicitly condemn them.

  • yangachibastardo

    Well on a similar note:


    Transalation :” Kim Jong Un ? Politically I’d define him a centrist”

    The same dude also made the news a while ago when he said in his view N. Korea is very similar to Switzerland: clean, orderly, prosperous and democratic.

    How you guys have been ?

  • http://www.xlgames.com/ Avaast

    Why are these international child sex aficionados always Canadian? This is starting to get embarrassing…

  • wangkon936

    We have been waiting for the Norks to fail for decades. They haven’t and even money says they won’t. However, we have no consistent lines of communications with them. Let’s just say our diplomacy with North Korea sucks and official channels are pretty much non-existent. So, we have to rely on NBA hasbeens and New Jersey BBQ restaurateurs to have “consistent lines of communications” with the North Koreans. We also have to rely on Japanese sushi chiefs to have decent intel on the ruling Kim family. Anyone else see something wrong here?

    I think people like Dennis Rodman and Bob Elgin aren’t so much weird people as they are just a product of our shitty diplomacy with North Korea. It’s almost like we are not talking to them because we think they will just wither and die if we don’t talk to them. However, that has just not been panning out for at least the past 20 years. Maybe the thing Dennis Rodman is really telling us is that maybe we just need a change with how we deal with the North Koreans because, as history has shown, they just ain’t gonna go away on their own.

  • wangkon936


    Benvenuto. Bello vederti! Che cosa sta accadendo?

  • wangkon936

    With ‘Mericans it’s guns. With Canucks it’s child sex. The universe balances out!

  • wangkon936

    Btw… I think Steven Seagal is weak because I think aikido is weak.

    And the Mongolian first lady? I dunno… I had my hopes dashed when Phil Gramm’s Presidential bid failed. For a brief moment in time Wendy Lee Gramm could have been ‘Merica’s first lady.

  • yangachibastardo

    Wow man that’s impressive ! I had, to put it shortly, the best year of my adult life…i’m in Italy now to pick up our visa: me and kiddo are moving to Kuala Lumpur !!! We have rented a place in the Bangsar area, i’m really really happy i finallly made it out of here.

    My name has been cleared of any wrongdoing in my country and got even some money rebated to me by court.

    I have a Chinese Malaysian business partner, oh me and you are somehow collegues now :-) Thanks God i’m good at selling pretty much anything haha

    MOre importantly i decided it was time to start acting like an adult: i did a 28 days program last April and have been sober ever since…when some decent chiro fix my back i’ll start training again

  • yangachibastardo

    I think Steven Seagal is weak because I think aikido is weak.

    Usual Muay Thai hubris :-) but yes Aikido is a joke

  • djson1

    “Rodman’s, uh, Rodman…”, or you mean the Worm’s worm?

  • redwhitedude

    I have no problems with sending people like snooki, lady gaga and such to north korea.

  • wangkon936

    If you want the North Koreans to think we are a reasonable and sane country, yeah I do.

  • kaizenmx

    He was beaten by a 60 years old stuntman who knocked him out with a choke hold during one of his movie production. he proceeded to shit himself.

    There is a story about this.

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah but I doubt they really know what Rodman’s standing among the public is in the rest of the world. If they request a concert by Lady Gaga fine. Also this is done because of the leader not due to the north Korean public.

  • redwhitedude

    I thought it was Germans.

  • yangachibastardo

    I’m not trying to put down the plight of these poor children or discount the very real suffering of any other victim of these heinous crimes but sometimes i wonder if maybe pedophile sex tourism stats are not a bit inflated by NGO’s with an obvious interest in doing so…this (i admit fairly cynical) conviction stems from the fact the media in every industrialised country seems to regularly sound alarmist bells about how their nation is the worst offender when it comes to child abuse.

    I saw this kind of “Oh my God we are the worst scum” type of stuff in the Italian, French and Swiss press…on top of the Korean one of course.

  • wangkon936

    I thought we were talking anglosphere.

  • wangkon936

    If Lady Gaga goes to North Korea you are going to see a worse version of this:


    Check out the audience reactions to relatively chaste Baby Vox.

  • redwhitedude

    Unfortunately it is up to their leader. God knows what their chubby leader wants next.

  • redwhitedude

    We could also be talking about Japanese, Koreans, Chinese and so forth.

  • setnaffa

    I wish all of the folks like Rodman would move permanently to a “Worker’s Paradise” like the norKs have built. Along with the folks who give them free publicity (present company excluded, of course). ;-)

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Good to see you back, sir.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Ive heard some crazy people put together some coherent sentences. I would say the guy is mostly stupid with some crazy on top.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Um, dude, the Norks failed in the 1970s. They haven’t yet collapsed but there is no way not to call it a failed state.

  • wangkon936

    Yes… I need to start training again soon before the ajusshi gut I developed in grad school starts to become permanent… :-(

  • wangkon936

    Ah, now I see how Rodman was about to meet with Pudgy Leader:

  • wangkon936

    Okay, I’ll give it a shot:

    The Japanese eat whales. The Koreans eat dogs. The Chinese eat fetuses. Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound very balanced.

  • redwhitedude

    Which sort of explains why China is not really trusted with whatever they are doing. Just look at how other countries are reacting to chinese claims of “terrorism” by uighurs.
    But that is going off topic. Of the 3 countries Japan is probably the worst offender when it comes to patronizing the international sex trade. They don’t even have ban for child porn WTF!

  • cactusmcharris


    We’ve missed your crazy, futbol-loving, Ryan-Air-dissin’ self.

  • cactusmcharris

    What kind of fetuses, WK? Chicken / duck eggs?

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    That was not “some 60 year old stuntman” but Gene Lebell…look him up. The guy taught grappling to Bruce Lee and was a judo champion. And he incident involved Seagal voluntarily allowing Lebell to get him in a rear naked choke position to show he could get out of it. He didn’t but again, it was Gene Lebell, for chrissakes.

  • bumfromkorea

    Considering the decrepit clown car that is the history of our state’s governorship, Steven Seagal would fit right in with the rest of the bunch.

  • Bob Bobbs

    That’s not very nice. Emil Castro? John Wayne Gacy? I don’t think they were from Moose Jaw.

  • yangachibastardo

    hahahahahaha thanks, for some reason in KL they all seem to be rabid Man U fans (at least my collegues)…imagine my poor heart what it has to endure

  • yangachibastardo

    Thank you Robert, how’s the vibe upthere in Northern Country ?

  • seouldout

    “Of the 3 countries Japan is probably the worst offender when it comes to patronizing the international sex trade.”

    You have deets to back that up?

  • redwhitedude

    And your point being? Japan does not have an outright ban on child porn that means simple possession, possession for the purpose of distribution and production of it both should be banned. There was controversy when they tried to make revisions to their existing law over this.

    As to the sex trade look up the polaris project and video clips that I posted before.

  • redwhitedude

    He’ll do a fine job…running the state to the ground.

  • kaizenmx

    Sand in your vagina?

    I just heard about the story, calm your tits.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    So be more careful what you write next time. Don’t spread rumors and gossip. And you’re calling me a girl. Your inability to take criticism in a rational and calm way when you know you are in the wrong says that YOU are the one with the vagina.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Same shit, bigger pile, really.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    That works, too.

  • will.i.aint