Anyone that is at least reasonably connected probably know that former NBA player Dennis Rodman took an ill-advised and controversial (imagine that- Rodman and controversial in the same sentence) trip to North Korea. North Korea is easily the most isolated nation in the entire world. By a lot. To see images of North Korea and South Korea, the difference between each nation is night and day. Satellite imagery from space show the nation to be pitch black at night while cities in nations all around it shine as bright as stars. To say that the leadership of North Korea for the last 50 years is beyond completely insane is an understatement. The leadership of NK since it's founding after the split between North Korea and South Korea in 1945 has consisted of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un, or for those who love ancestry... grandfather, father and son. The former 2 ruled with absolute power with a nation of citizens believing them to be gods, and I'm sure that for the current leader, Kim Jong-un, it is the same deal.
What's ironic is that if you really know the life and times of Dennis Rodman then when you heard he went to NK and yucked it up with Kim Jong-un then you probably weren't all that surprised. Of all the truly odd things Rodman has done through the years, this would qualify as standard fare for him. I watched Rodman go from hard-nosed, clean-cut Pistons player to pierced/tatted up hair bleached out Dennis Rodman who once dressed in drag and tried to marry himself. He joined my beloved Chicago Bulls for 3 seasons, and as many championships, so I had a front row seat to the Dennis Rodman Circus. His off-court life has vastly overshadowed his genius on the court, and that's the problem; everyone seems to remember him more for his antics rather than his playing. Sure, we all remember he was a Defensive Player of the Year a couple times and that he's arguably one of the best rebounders in NBA history, but in retrospect more people seem to remember his multi-colored hair jobs, kicking a photographer in the junk, a 6'8" male in a wedding dress in a carriage, and a belly button ring. And it's largely due to those memories that, to put it mildly, Rodman's perception of the world isn't exactly on the the level. Quotes attributed to him from an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos about NK leader Kim Jong-un are further evidence to this fact.
Take for instance this little exchange;
DR: Kim's a great guy. If you sit down and talk to him... perception is perceiving how things work...
GS: A great guy who puts 200,000 people in prison camps?
DR: Well... you know, guess what? We do the same thing here.
GS: We have prison camps here in the United States?
DR: We don't have prison camps, guess what? This is all politics, right? This is all politics, right? Anyone think... Kim don't want to do that. He don't want to do that. But you know what, dude? It's more like... I'm not, like, a diplomat. I don't want to do that.
I mean, like, uh, you know, right?
Or how about this one;
GS: When you said you love Kim and you think he's awesome were you aware of his threats to destroy the United States and his regime's horrendous record on human rights?
DR: I didn't look at all that right there. I understand what he's doing. I don't condone that. I hate the fact that he's doing that, but the fact of it is, that's a human being, though. He let his guard down. He did one thing to me... been a friend. I didn't talk about that. I understand that. I understand that. But...
GS: Don't you have a responsibility to ask him about it so that you don't be perceived as sort of propping up his regime, his cult of personality?
DR: When you grow up in that environment, especially when your grandpa and your father... the kid's only 28 years old.
No, Dennis, Kim is actually 30. And the reality is that from grandfather down to grandson they have all known the horrors they consciously inflict upon their own people. It's a choice, and they get it. They, unlike the rest of the NK population, keep a link to the outside world and understand what's going on. Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather, has a nation of over 20 million innocent people under this thumb, and he's not going to let up. The famous saying stands; Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Rodman also offered up this gem;
GS: But it sounds like you're apologizing for him.
DR: No, I'm not apologizing for him. I think the fact that, you know, he's a good guy to me. He's my friend. I don't condone what he does, but as far as a person-to-person basis he's my friend. As far as what he does...
GS: Someone who hypothetically is a murderer who's your friend is still a murderer.
DR: Well, you know what, dude? Seriously, you know what? Guess what? What I did was history. It's just like we do over here in America, right? It's amazing, we got presidents over here who do the same thing, right? It's amazing that Bill Clinton can do one thing, have sex with his secretary, and get really get away with it and still be powerful.
Really, Denny? Bill Clinton being an adulterer is the same as Jong-un being a murderous dictator? While I don't condone adultery, at all, murder is a pretty heinous crime against humanity. And then to brag about making history by going to NK is a real laugher. This just all disturbs me because of the murderous atrocities and cult of personality that is taking place at the hands of what the NK people refer to as The Dear Leader.
You want to get a glimpse into what North Korea is really like? I would highly recommend watching the National Geographic documentary Lisa Ling did a few years ago. I'll embed it below, but it's worth a watch. There are scenes that will break your heart. It's just amazing to watch how delusional their population is, and how twisted their leaders have been throughout the years. The documentary is near brilliant as far as exposes go. I'm sure there are other documentaries out there that are equally as informative, but this one is pretty insightful from a "boots on the ground" perspective. It's something that Dennis Rodman needs to watch, because I'm sure that what Ling and Co. captured is probably but a small fraction of the atrocities taking place in North Korea today. She didn't even get to document that prison camps. And, this documentary was filmed in 2009; there have been many more sanctions leveled against NK by the United Nations, so I imagine that as poor as the living conditions were back then... they're probably even worse nearly 5 years later. Watching something like this is actually good, because we sometimes forget just how much liberty we have here in the States.
The international community is doing what it can to put pressure on NK, but sadly, it hasn't been enough for the their Dear Leaders to step down. And, the fact that they have nuclear weapons complicates the issue immensely. The heart aches for the innocent people caught up in the tyranny of 3 human beings. Yes, 3, count them 1-2-3 human beings. Pray for that nation. Check out the video below when you have time. It's worth it.