The former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman is visiting North Korea this week in an effort to “open a door.”
Rodman, who is notoriously friends with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has visited the rogue country at least four times int he past.
Although this isn’t his first time traveling to North Korea, it is the first time since the Trump administration has been in office.
President Trump has had harsh rhetoric about North Korea and its nuclear weapon program. Just this year, North Korea has launched 16 ballistic missiles. Trump has repeatedly promised to give the country proper consequences.
Rodman and Trump are friends from the Celebrity Apprentice, so is the president hoping that the former NBA basketball star can soothe some things over on his behalf?
Rodman told reporters while at the airport Tuesday that he thinks that Trump approves of his trip.
“Well, I’m pretty sure he’s pretty much happy with the fact that I’m over here trying to accomplish something that we both need,” said Rodman.
When asked if he would ask Kim about the several Americans detained, Rodman said “that’s not my purpose right now” to reporters while at the Beijing airport before his flight to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
But, it appears that the main objective of the trip is for pleasure, not business.
“I’m just here to see some friends and have a good time,” said Rodman to reporters.
However, Rodman is being criticized for traveling to the country during a dangerous time.
“Dennis Rodman is a private citizen. We are aware of his visit. We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety,” said Thomas Shannon, U.S. Undersecretary of State, to reporters.
“Any visit by a high-profile American is a political minefield and Rodman has been criticized for failing to use his influence on leaders who are otherwise isolated diplomatically from the rest of the world,” writes The Washington Times. “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 U.S. troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.”
Author’s note: Could this be a good (and calculated) move? Rodman seems to be the only one to have a good rapport with Kim. Maybe he can help relieve the tension.
Editor’s comment: Whether or not he was asked to go by Trump, this can’t help but ease tensions a bit. It is easy for Kim to bluster in his isolation, but Rodman’s presence must remind him that there is an outside world and that it matters.
Rodman’s presentation of the “The Art of the Deal” to Kim, appears to be a special message encouraging a deal. We’ll see.