UPDATE 2 (2013-9-8): Just as Kenji Fujimoto taught us the name of Kim Jong-un, Rodman has revealed to the world the name of Kim Jong-un’s daughter. According to The Guardian:
Dennis Rodman has already described Kim as an “awesome guy”. On Sunday, he told the Guardian the leader was also a “good dad” to his baby daughter, whom he named as Ju-ae.
“The Marshal Kim and I had a relaxing time by the sea with his family,” Rodman said of his recent visit to the world’s most isolated country. “We shared many meals and drinks where we discussed our plans to play a historic friendship basketball game between North Korea and the US as well as ways to develop their basketball team.”
“I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms Ri [Sol-Ju, Kim's wife] as well. He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family. Kim told me, ‘I’ll see you in December.’”
Rodman plans to organise a basketball game between American and Korean teams.
“Kim is a great guy, he loves basketball, and he’s interested in building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges,” Rodman said. “I know in time Americans will see I’m just trying to help us all get along and see eye to eye through basketball and with my friendship with Kim I know this will happen.” Further details on the basketball match are expected on Monday.
If the Rodman in Pyongyang story wasn’t unusual enough, there is an extra twist – it is being sponsored by an Irish bookmaking firm, which cheerfully admits it has no experience of international diplomacy.
Paddy Power used Rodman for a promotional stunt involving bets about the new pope, after which the eponymous son of the founder of the firm went for “pizza and a few glasses of wine” with the ex-NBA star in Rome. Rodman then explained his “basketball diplomacy” idea.
Despite thinking it was “all a bit bonkers”, Power decided to get involved. He said: “If you’d told me about this 12 months ago I’d have got the men in white coats to take you away. It’s an unusual idea to say the least.”
Power stressed that the project did not mean that the company or Rodman “endorse or support” one of the world’s most repressive regimes, which has an appalling human rights record.
The company consulted a Korea expert at the International Crisis Group thinktank, which argues that this is not entirely a stunt.
“Someone might say that Dennis Rodman provides political legitimacy to the regime, or it can be treated as a propaganda coup,” said ICG’s Daniel Pinkston, who has been an expert on North Korea for 30 years. “I think that’s greatly exaggerated. If you have a former president of the United States, that factor might be much greater. But someone like Dennis Rodman can’t do that. He can’t lift sanctions – he doesn’t have that power or authority.”
“The risks and costs are very, very low, and what you’re creating is a channel for the exchange of ideas. It’s a very small channel, but it’s there.”
He said the interaction between Kim and Rodman sent out a signal to the world – and to North Koreans. “Here’s someone who’s one of the most nonconformist individuals you can think of. And here’s the leader, embracing him. That is an implicit signal – it’s OK to be different.”
The New York Times also reports:
On Monday, Mr. Rodman said Mr. Kim gave him the right to write a book about him.
Mr. Rodman said he would put together a team of 12 former N.B.A. stars to travel to Pyongyang in January for one week. He said he hoped to recruit people like his former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone. They will play a North Korean team on Jan. 8 and another game two days later, he said. Mr. Kim promised a stadium and 95,000 fans.
Mr. Rodman said he planned to travel to Pyongyang in December to help select and prepare a North Korean team. A second set of games between the teams will be played in June in Europe, according to an agreement between the North Korean minister of sports and Mr. Rodman that was read during the news conference on Monday.
Mr. Rodman said he accepted Mr. Kim’s request for him to train the North’s Olympic basketball team.
UPDATE 1 (2013-9-7): Reuters reports that Dennis Rodman has left without Kenneth Bae.
Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman returned on Saturday from his second visit to North Korea this year where he again met the reclusive country’s leader Kim Jong-un, but did not come back with jailed American missionary Kenneth Bae.
“That’s not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae. Ask Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton,” he told a throng of reporters. “I don’t give a shit.”
Rodman showed reporters in Beijing pictures of him meeting Kim, and said he had given Kim a gift of his Bad Boy vodka, which “he loved”.
“He is my friend for life. I don’t care what you guys think about him. I don’t give a shit about what people around the world think about him,” he added.
Rodman’s latest trip was sponsored by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.
On September 3, Rodman returned to the DPRK for his second trip.
Here is coverage in Rodong Sinmun:
Supreme leader Kim Jong Un met ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman and his party on a visit to the DPRK.
He warmly greeted them and had a cordial talk with them.
Warmly welcoming Dennis Rodman visiting the DPRK again as a friend in a good season, Kim Jong Un told him that he might visit the DPRK any time and spend pleasant days, having a rest.
Saying he feels very grateful to Kim Jong Un for sparing a precious time to meet him and his party despite his tight schedule, Dennis Rodman said this is an expression of good faith towards the Americans.
He said that he was fortunate to revisit the DPRK as he has friendly relations with broad-minded Marshal Kim Jong Un.
Dennis Rodman evinced his will to contribute to boosting diverse sports and cultural exchange with the DPRK.
He presented Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju with a gift he prepared with the deepest respect for them.
Kim Jong Un, together with him and his party, watched a basketball match between the April 25 Team and the Amnokgang Team.
Kim Jong Un hosted a dinner for Dennis Rodman and his party.
Expressing his heartfelt thanks to Kim Jong Un for spending a lot of time for him and his party and according them the warmest hospitality, Dennis Rodman said he would remember this visit as an unforgettable beautiful memory all his life.