The White House confirmed Thursday that President Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by May. South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-Yong met with Kim earlier this week and late Thursday met with Trump after which he announced the invitation and Kim’s commitment to denuclearization.
A meeting between “Rocket Man” and “Dotard,” as the two atypical world leaders have name-called one another over the past year of sometimes terrifying nuclear war threat rhetoric, could be a fluke, dicey or dangerous. One thing’s for sure, no one can predict with certainty.
Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement early Friday that despite the sit-down, “Our resolve is undeterred and our policy remains the same: all sanctions remain in place and the maximum pressure campaign will continue until North Korea takes concrete, permanent, and verifiable steps to end their nuclear program.”
Kim’s close friend the flamboyant former NBA Dennis Rodman applauded Trump for accepting the invitation adding the meeting between the 45th president and Kim would be historic.
Stephen Colbert had begun his opening monologue for Thursday night’s show when he learned the news of the meeting and joked, “Wow, this can only mean one thing … Dennis Rodman is going to get the Nobel Peace Prize.”
The unlikeliest of best-friends-forever relationships dates back to 2013.
Here’s what you need to know about Dennis Rodman And Kim Jong-un’s fondness for each other:
1. Baller Dennis Rodman, an NBA Legend, Is a Puzzle Wrapped In a Rune Inside a Gordian Knot
Jersey born Rodman, 56, nicknamed ‘The Worm’ played for you-name-the-team, Bulls to Spurs, and has a storied career with the NBA. First drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1986, Rodman is a five-time NBA champion, named NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice, NBA All-Defensive First Team seven times from the late 1980s until the late ‘90s and was a two-time NBA All-Star team player.
Yes, Rodman is a legendary hooper, but also storied for his eccentricity and for setting trends on the fringes of the popular culture. Rodman’s bizarre antics and flamboyant personal style from wearing a wedding dress to promote his book, courting Madonna and marrying Carmen Electra, dying his hair colors not found in nature, peppered with piercings and tats long before it was the fashion and as a part time professional wrestler, theater really, a short-lived MTV reality show in the ‘90s, inexplicably Pearl Jam and Rodman were a thing, he had roles in less-than-B movies (he won a Razzie!) and finally, his unorthodox and curious close friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
So yeah, Rodman is a puzzle wrapped in a rune inside a Gordian knot.
2. Kim Jong-un & Dennis Rodman First Met in 2013 & Hung Out Together at a Basketball Game
Starting with the mystery of his actual birthdate—North Korea says he was born in 1982, South Korea says it was 1983 and US records claim he was born in 1984—Kim has been enigmatic. He became the supreme leader of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2011 following his father’s death, or perhaps before; it’s not clear. Regardless, he was approximately 28 years old. Kim was educated in Switzerland almost certainly but that too is a mystery, at least records conflict, but he likely attend school in Bern using a pseudonym and reportedly was a good student and played basketball and was into basketball video games and, as was reported years ago by the Washington Post, Kim used to obsessively do pencil sketches of Michael Jordan. So Kim has had a basketball jones and it’s this hoops infatuation which sets the stage for his relationship with Rodman.
Rodman became a “friend for life” with Kim during his first trip to North Korea in February of 2013 when they sat together during a basketball exhibition in Pyongyang. In December of 2013, Rodman and a documentary crew traveled there as Rodman was training the North Korean basketball team for an exhibition game set for January of 2014 as a gift to Kim for his birthday.
Former NBA star Charles Smith, in a CNN clip from 2014, defended the widely criticised North Korea trip which he described as “basketball diplomacy …basketball as a cultural exchange.” Rodman was harshly criticized for his chumminess with the despot.
They have met a number of times since.
3. Rodman Explained His Relationship Now 5 Year Friendship With Kim Jong-un
In a 2017 Rodman interview on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert introduced the basketball legend this way: “…possibly all that is standing between us and thermonuclear war with North Korea” is Dennis Rodman who sauntered on to the set with a toothpick in his mouth and a t-shirt for Potcoin, the “ultra-secure digital cryptocurrency, network and banking solution for the $100 billion global legal marijuana industry” and ‘Unite’ with an American flag and images of Kim and Trump with Rodman in the middle.
When asked why does he go to North Korea and visit Kim, Rodman said, “For some reason, he likes me …and for some reason he trusts me.”
Colbert: “What do you actually talk about, and I don’t mean this insultingly, to a madman murderous dictator?”
“We talk about basketball.” Rodman added, “It’s funny though, I don’t see who people, can sit there and say this person’s a madman …he probably is, but I don’t see it .” Colbert breaks in to say Kim had his uncle murdered and fed to dogs. Rodman pointed to a video of a basketball game where Kim and his uncle were together. Colbert suggested Kim could have another uncle. Colbert then asked if Rodman had spoken with Kim about nuclear war. Rodman said they had and said Kim told him: “I don’t want war …I’d take you over there to listen …he sounds, he’s more of a kid than anything.” Rodman said Kim inherited the regime and Rodman believes Kim wants to “change the culture.”
“My job is to be a human being and connect us with them.” Rodman said he doesn’t want people to say “you betrayed America,” but his response is, “No I didn’t, I just went over there to try to solve things, to try to open the door so we could have some communication.”
Rodman said Kim asked if he could be trusted: “…we just want to know, can we trust you?” He answered yes, absolutely “and that’s how our conversation started…”
Kim is moving his nation forward, Rodman told the Daily Mail in a December 2017 interview, “It’s more like they took down the Flintstones era and put in the Jetsons.”
4. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize Might Be a Stretch, But Rodman May Be an Unofficial US-North Korea Dipplomat
Rodman has appealed to Trump to allow him to be an emissary for peace with North Korea as tensions between Trump and Kim were escalating and fears of a nuclear war were fueled by the frightening rhetoric, name-calling, threats and missile testing last fall. But a travel ban by the State Department following the release and ultimately death of American Otto Warmbier prohibited Rodman from traveling to the hermit kingdom.
Rodman told The Guardian last December, “Basically they said it’s not a good time right now,” Rodman said, adding that actually, this is the time to go.
“If I can go back over there … you’ll see me talking to him, and sitting down and having dinner, a glass of wine, laughing and doing my thing. I guess things will settle down a bit and everybody can rest at ease …I think a lot of people around the world … want me to go just to see if I can do something,” Rodman said.
5. Speculation On the Outcome of a Trump-Kim Meeting Ranges From Hopeful to Fearful
The meeting slated for May is seen as falling somewhere between a sign for peace and progress, a market uncertainty,
a potential disaster and at the very least, what ever the outcome, must be carefully planned, thought out, researched and executed and that would require the expertise of longtime diplomats.
On a lighter note …