March 4th, 2013
02:23 PM ET

Official Washington brushes off Rodman visit to North Korea

Dennis Rodman, The basketball diplomat, is back from his trip to north korea-

And he's delivering a message from its leader to President Obama: "call me."

Rodman, the former NBA star, went to North Korea to film a documentary about basketball. And he got to sit courtside next to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who's a huge basketball fan.

Rodman got closer to the dictator than U.S. diplomats have.

The man who was known as “The Worm” while playing basketball says he's got a new friend, calling Kim Jong Un a very humble man who loves power and control.

Elise Labott reports.


Filed under: Kim Jong-un • North Korea • Security Brief
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. helenecha

    Hi, Mr. Kim Jong Un, if we saw that the US magnate Bill Gates has dinner with you at that moment, we would think that his efforts on vaccine research must be good for your country and your people. What's more is that Bill Gates has many good friends who are the very good businessman.

    March 5, 2013 at 6:01 am | Reply
  2. helenecha

    We don't know whether or not Dennis Rodman has a very good relationship with President Obama, but North Korean President Kim Jong Un is that great, as we see he has asked a former NBA star to present his greetings to the President Obama like an old friend rather than asking a politician.

    March 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  3. Steve

    The VP says Obama isn't Bs-ing on Iran with their 'nukes' but with North Korea he's mum – guess the reason is there's no Jews in North Korea. Seems the Jews have the United States on a short leash lately

    March 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  4. Hcalla

    Finally a democratic shinning star. This man truly represents the best of the party. Good job Mr. Prez in selecting such a stealthy representative of your administration. Did you hear the part about Bill Clinton in his interview? Already laying ground work for 2016 maybe? Look out Hilary there's a new sheriff in democratville and his badge is a ring through his lip.

    March 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  5. Shoot The Neocons

    Gotta love all the Clovers out there losing their collective sh!t over absolutely nothing.

    March 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  6. Rapper

    I agree James, not to mention the female journalist called Kim Jong Un several times Kim Jong Il...

    March 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • Tom

      Hey you, we're talking about a stupid move Obama made and you post such a meaningless comment above saying nothing at all! Senseless posts like these are irritating and stupid!

      March 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
      • George Patton-2

        Good grief Tom, don't you believe in free speech? I do, although these right-wing nutjobs here irritate me with their Tea Party stupidity.

        March 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  7. Joseph McCarthy

    No surprise here! Such is to be expected from those right-wing, lame brained politicians in Washington who only use the American peoples' ignorance in order to get more votes. This is revolting indeed!

    March 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Portland tony

      Such is to be expected from a clown like Barack Obama whose only concern is to be politically correct, Joseph. This bozo renegged on most of his promises like closing down Gitmo and getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides, he is now butchering more people with those godless drones of his that Bush did, and that makes me want to puke!

      March 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  8. Joe Mama

    How about it? How about sports diplomacy? Remember JFK's call to diplomacy in his inaugural address - "...remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." Ping pong diplomacy between the US & China was met with more interest and welcome by both populations than the "blah blah" stuffy nuanced dance of traditional diplomatic channels. If Kim Jong Un is such a hoops fan - and we're the nation that gave birth to and remains the center of gravity for that sport - why not give it a shot? The cost would be relatively small, and the potential for gain, huge. President Obama could send quite likely send someone with ten times the intelligence and equal or greater basketball bona fides than Rodman to North Korea as a special envoy. Someone like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Magic Johnson. Bill Bradley or David Robinson. Dave Bing or Bill Russell. Maybe even a famous coach - Zen Master Phil Jackson or Bobby Knight or Pat Summit or perhaps outgoing men's olympic coach, Coach K (would have to wait till after the big dance, in his case). Of course, stack the deck for success by including a couple mid-level bureaucrats and one or two North Korea analysts. But the point is that the North Korea situation is bad already and only getting worse. What's been tried for the past decade or so has not shown much promise. Whether's it's "hear no evil" by putting our hands over our ears or Bush-esque "bring it on" tough talk, none of our recent formal diplomacy with North Korea has approached the successful connection and communication realized in one weekend by... "the Worm." If America, by extension (figuratively speaking, of course), can do that much, in so little time, with so little effort, with one hand (and one brain) tied behind its back, think what we might accomplish if we actually tried. If it doesn't work, I don't think the world would think less of the US. Let's say DPRK spurns someone popular and well-known like Magic - bad press for Un and more international favor and political capital for the US. Why not? Why not? Lives of US servicemembers are precious! War should always be a last resort after trying cheaper and more peaceful means... even basketball diplomacy. And yes, I'm a veteran.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  9. Jonah Gibson

    Anyone who thinks Rodman actually made some kind of diplomatic breakthrough here is seriously deluded. Rodman was used by the North Korean regime to prank the U.S. in an ongoing charade. None of this deserves a second thought.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
    • Didymus Leonheart

      and any idiot who thinks that having this kind of close encounter to the leader of a hermit crab is just a "joke" is seriously deluded. I love how you just brush this off. Sure Rodman is an idiot but still it's one of the little ties we have and we could try to use that as a means of diplomacy. We haven't achieved anything like this since the Korean war. HAHA. I love how they just assume this is no big deal.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Reply
      • Shoot The Neocons

        Please – explain to us all how this non-event is such a "big deal"? Do you really think that the masses of overweight dolts are going to continue giving a sh!t two weeks from now, let alone remenber?

        March 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
      • Shoot The Neocons

        should be 'remember'.

        March 4, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Geoff

      According to the CIA, Rodman knows more personal info on Kim than any agent right now. Rodman says to give Kim a call and that he doesn't want war. Now my question is, how did Washington or the CIA not do that first? What are we doing arguing about Rodman being a nut and missing the point of an opportunity for dialogue with a rogue nuclear nation? Kim's a very isolated young man who loves basketball. Are you saying we couldn't arrange to have any body, not a single person, who could better represent us and go on another trip? Or do you work for an organization that would profit by bombing them?

      March 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  10. Didymus Leonheart

    Why isn't the Obama administration taking advantage of this? We have never been this close to North Korea and yet they assume that Dennis Rodman is just some kid who is worshiping a celebrity or something. While he is a fool we can still use him as a tie to this hermit crab nation. Obama would be absolutely stupid to throw away the one thing that would allow us even remote access into this reclusive nation.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  11. Cozy Mozy

    The President can't call him because every single phone line and computer around the World is monitored by the C/I.A

    March 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  12. paul

    For those who thought Rodman did right thing, let's ask why didn't Rodman ask Kim to call Obama instead? I came here from escaping a communist country. Rodman is such a propaganda tool used by dictatorship regime. Look at the truth, here we have all basic human right and freedom of express our opinion while N. Korean are forced to worhship their dictator like God for 3rd Kim' generation. N. Korean have been suffered and isolated from the outside where they could not even read foreign magazine or surf internet. Rodman should have learned the fact how N.K regime treat and isloate their people without basic human right before you go and come back here to advise our government.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Geoff

      Paul, the same media company who arranged the meet, VICE.com, also traveled there before. That time they showed exactly how horrible the conditions are and complete the dictatorial rule. No one advocates that here and to frame the argument of having conversations with that leadership in that manner suggests a myopic and propagandist view of the situation.

      March 4, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  13. a disgrace but you voted for him!

    rodman will be at the white house in a week or less

    March 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  14. spartan

    Why the hell is this even news? Unless the suggestion is our citizens need white house approval before visiting another country...

    March 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Reply
    • Geoff

      Try going to Cuba. You might be surprised when you book your flight.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  15. Geoff

    What's going on in Washington that no one thought to pick up the phone and say hello? Even worse, to reject the idea when publicly asked to do so? This is an opportunity to create a dialogue with a rogue nuclear power. We're willing to sanction the population into starvation but dismiss the opportunity for peace talks?

    What an epic failure of US diplomacy and public discourse. We should probably organize a public tax strike until our government represents the peaceful nature of the US people internationally.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Reply
    • paul

      Why didn't Rodman ask Kim to call Obama instead? I came here from escaping a communist country. Rodman is such a propaganda tool used by dictatorship regime. Look at the truth, here we have all basic human right and freedom of express our opinion while N. Korean are forced to worhship their dictator like God for 3rd Kim' generation. N. Korean have been suffered and isolated from the outside where they could not even read foreign magazine or surf internet.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Reply
      • Geoff

        Who's to say he hasn't tried. When looking at Washington's response to the plea for conversation, they publicly dismiss it. Why do you think they would take the call?

        March 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • RetiredVet

      I agree with you Geoff, this could be a missed opportunity by the Obama administration to take advantage of this. Dennis Rodman has done what no US diplomat has done since the Korean War.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
      • paul

        In fact, Clinton's administration had tried all diplomacies even give them aid of foods for exchange their stop developing nuclear. Unfortunately, it turned out that N. Korea had black mailed us and still developed then tested nuclear bombs. N. Korea was the one who walked out from the 6 nations party talk, not the other five nations.

        March 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  16. Chan

    Look at the picture: The lady in the white shirt, she kept her eyes away from the game but him and she might wonder: Is he a typical American?????

    March 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  17. Cozy Mozy

    Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  18. Jerry

    Did she say Rodman met with Kim Jong Il? The current leader of North Korea is Kim Jong Un. His father, Kim Jong Il, is dead.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  19. eggroll

    The president will call him when hades freezes over and this guy stops starving his own people.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  20. Tim

    LOL... "A very humble man who likes power and control."

    March 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • jimmy

      i don't think Rodman is intelligent enough to understand oximorons :)

      March 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Reply
      • Jeff Bridges

        More of a paradox.

        March 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  21. funny man

    he is a secret agent :-p
    obama was asked "should we send in the seal team"
    obama replied " no send in rodman"

    March 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Jeff Bridges

      He's the new chuck norris

      March 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • Hcalla

      You know I agree. Ill bet at night when basketball was finished and he had finished his shaken not stirred martini. He slipped into his black jumpsuit and slipped around photographing nuclear stuff

      March 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  22. p mewis

    i smell an "ARGO" !

    March 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  23. OutsidetheBeltway

    I have a hard time looking at Dennis Rodman with all his facial piercings and tattoos,
    but I have to admit that he is a better diplomat for trying to make peace with his enemies.
    Call him the worm, but at least he doesn't bury his head in the sand about North Korea
    like all the paid diplomats in DC do. Instead they bow to the war profiteers in DC,
    and think of peace as something to be avoided because it ruins the bottom line
    of Bechtel, BP, Exxon, Halliburton, and all the other blood money billionaires.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    • jon Roche

      Obama might as well take Rodmans advice. Both of them basically represent the same segment of their race and both have about the same background in international diplomacy. If Rodman picked up a Koran i wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Realist

      You are really far outside the beltway, go a little bit further and ask the slaves being raised (yes the children of prisoners in the North stay and become slaves themselves) by the N. Korean Dictator so he can meet with the Worm what they think of their Nation.

      The problem isn't in Washington regarding N. Korea, it is the leadership of the Slave State that is the issue.

      If Obama had some balls (and maybe a leader like Reagan) he would pick up the phone and call the little punk on it.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  24. GJD

    The "Worm" should just stay in Pyongyang and simultaneously raise the IQ of both countries.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  25. Eric

    Elise a "foreign policy journalist" doesn't even know who the leader of North Korea is. Just listen to how she keeps referring to him as Kim Jong Il. Um, Elise, he's dead. Kim Jong Un is the leader who met with Rodman.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  26. Dwight

    Of all the Ambassadors representing US Basketball its Dennis Rodman? I know he was requested by Un but Rodman?
    Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, or Jerry West would have been far superior than Rodman? It kind of tells you what the young Ruler's thinking is.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • LaRue

      Dwight, why would you say something like that. The man is a basketball fan pure and simple, and Dennis Rodman was a great basketball player. Say what you will, but Dennis has a down-to-earth disposition and he tells it like it is. No put ons, shows, etc., he was absolutely perfect for that trip. Also, the Harlem Globtrotters were there - an American icon. Come on, let's give the guy a break.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
      • Esther

        Besides, no one with a lick of sense or honor would be willing to betray his country as Rodman has. Thanks to Rodman's "diplomacy' this tin-plated dictator with no credibility has become the story of the day, prompting some idiots to say that the Leader of the Free World should call him. Kim is suitable for ignoring. Shame on Rodman for not doing so.

        March 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • spruce water

        LaRue,

        "Dennis has a down-to-earth disposition, and he tells it like it is. No put ons, shows, etc." . . . Are you being serious? Dennis Rodman is one of the most egotistically self-centered, superficially flamboyant, and completely pretentious personalities I can think of. His interview with George Stephanopuolos was beyond pathetic. I don't think that any of us will be seeing him again.

        March 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
      • jon Roche

        That doesn't make any sense. Rodman is all show and mouth. I agree with Dwight. SO MANY better choices than him. Of course who would want to go? He is one of the few people that if Kim threw a fit and kept him, no one would even care. More power to him.

        March 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  27. James

    This article is highly unprofessional. Why isn't North Korea even capitalized?

    March 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Reply
    • Matthew

      Not to mention the article doesn't have anything to do with the headline, which itself is not a recognizable sentence. Also, "he got". This doesn't even look like a first draft.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      Who cares. The only news they should post about north korea is when we drop a bomb on their ass.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Reply
    • Shoot The Neocons

      Who is this "we" you speak of, Sam? Afterall, it sure as sh!t won't be courtesy of the likes of you, you spineless chickenhawk.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Reply

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