March 5, 2013

Basketball Diplomacy?

The White House is not amused by Dennis Rodman's surprise trip to North Korea.

Maggie: Dennis Rodman’s known for his hall of fame worthy basketball career, and a colorful and sometimes scandalous personality.

Now, add one more thing to that list: U.S. diplomat. Rodman visited North Korea last week, becoming the first American to meet that country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

“Just we got invited, and we’re going over to have some fun.”

Rodman was in North Korea filming an HBO special with the exhibition basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters.

They’re said to have talked basketball with North Korea’s controversial leader –the man many have labeled an oppressive tyrant — guilty of human rights violations.

Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, Rodman delivered a message from Kim.

“He want Obama to do one thing, call him.”

“He wants a call from President Obama?”

“That’s right. He told me that. He said, ‘if you can Dennis, I don’t want to do war. I don’t want to do war.’”

Rodman suggests the secret to peaceful U.S. North Korea relations, might just be basketball. Kim is said to be an avid NBA fan.

“He loves basketball. And I said the same thing, I said, Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there.”

Rodman got plenty of face time with Kim, but the visit comes at a particularly sensitive time. Just a few weeks ago, North Korea launched its third nuclear test, violating international law. Weeks before that, the country said it tested missiles aimed at the U.S.

The Obama administration has made it clear it’s no fan of this “basketball diplomacy,” saying in a White House national security council statement that, “instead of spending money on staging sporting events, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people who have been starved, imprisoned and denied their human rights.”

More than six million North Koreans don’t get enough to eat. The Kim family has ruled North Korea for more than sixty years , closing off the country to the outside world and brutally cracking down on free speech and media. The few North Koreans who can afford internet and TV still can’t access information that’s not completely controlled by the government.

The U.S. State Department continues to distance itself from Rodman’s visit. But some say the trip may be helpful, since it gave the people of North Korea a rare glimpse of the outside world.

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News


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