Hoop Nightmares
January 9, 2014 3:31 AM   Subscribe

There's some confusion surrounding Dennis Rodman's most recent visit to North Korea and his espoused 'Basketball Diplomacy' mission. He sung Happy Birthday (potential auto-play sound) and bowed deeply to 'Dear Leader', before his team of ex-NBA players scored 39 points to 47 against the NK team. Rodman played only in the first half and then sat next to Kim during the second half.

His team defended their visit on CNN (includes comments by an apparently intoxicated Rodman).

With Rodman reportedly broke, the suggestions (apologies for lack of link) that he's a State Department mole, rather than seeking a capital injection as BFF with Kim-Un are subject to speculation. Reportedly and rumoured.

(Sorry, I'm not a journalist... hoping someone with more insight can add to this FPP)
posted by panaceanot (85 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rodman brought luxury gifts to Kim Jong Un (and that’s punishable by 20 years in prison).
posted by panaceanot at 3:45 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Thank Jebus they had the good sense to lose. Execution of the entire NK basketball team averted.
posted by Behemoth at 4:23 AM on January 9 [29 favorites]


NK has a ski area?
posted by sammyo at 4:25 AM on January 9


Rodman is a clown. The court jester.
posted by Flood at 4:27 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Rodman's big in NK and lots of north Asia because a Mongolian Christian satellite station started airing reruns of NBA starting in the mid-1990s. I recall NPR reported about it causing a huge wave of excitement, even though the games were not always sequential. Basketball was a national sport in many communist country, including Yugoslavia. It has a tremendous following in Russia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Lithuania, etc. I see what Rodman is doing as an opportunity for NK to get some export dollars. He might be getting a commission from this.

A lot of celebrities - a lot of people - claim to be too poor to pay child support, unfortunately. Rodman is an example of the bad financial decisions made by professional athletes. The LA Times wrote in March 2012 that his monthly outgoings are $31,000 and he owes more than $1 in back fees and taxes.

However, it is pretty much the dream of every former professional athlete to stay involved with their sport for as long as it is physically possible to do so. For some simply coaching a high school squad is a reward in itself. I do not for a minute believe Mr Rodman views his experience as negative.
posted by parmanparman at 4:29 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


His singing Happy Birthday to Kim had creepy shades of Marilyn singing to JFK.
posted by anothermug at 4:30 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]


But since when has anyone enforced a U.N. resolution against North Korea? For example, if Chinese customs inspected Rodman’s gifts and let them onto the flight for Pyongyang, that should tell you all you need to know about China’s compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions it voted for.

Since when has anyone enforced a U.N. resolution against North Korea? This must be one of them there "rhetorical questions" because a quick search on Goolge reveals as recently as August 2013. A preliminary report by a team of United Nations experts has determined that a North Korean cargo ship seized in Panama for carrying weapons violated sanctions, the Panamanian government has said.

It is indeed a pity that the UN does not enforce its sanctions against a bottle of whiskey with the same fervor as shipments of arms.
posted by three blind mice at 4:33 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I just don't even know what to make of this, except it's pretty sickening that an American still can't travel legally to Cuba, but North Korea, the World's Worst Country? No problemo.

Rodman clearly has mental issues, and you've got to know that this is keeping the State dept up at night, but what if... What if Basketball was the game that brought democracy and freedom to the DPRK? We can dare to dream, right?

Oh, ha, who am I kidding?
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:37 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Clearly opportunism is at the front of this for Rodman and NK, but isn't any international exposure unrelated to saber rattling a good thing?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 4:50 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


The Washington Post said Kim's public admiration of Dennis Rodman "raises questions about his savvy for mystique-building."

That was the oddest bit of political analysis I'd read in a while. Mystique-building? This is a thing?
posted by duffell at 5:05 AM on January 9


and bowed deeply to 'Dear Leader'

OK, to me this in particular really undermines his cover story about "oh, I'm just trying to improve the reputation of this poor country and bring peace to the world" (not that anyone believed it) - deep bowing has particular implications of filial respect in Korean culture, and I am completely sure that someone trained him specifically what to do and told him to do it - I cannot imagine that any untrained westerner would just DO this.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:06 AM on January 9


I sincerely doubt Dennis Rodman is a State Department (or CIA or anything else) mole: not to say that everyone who works for State is the sharpest knife in the drawer or anything, but there's no way they're all so nuts as to believe they can control or trust a loose cannon like Rodman.
posted by easily confused at 5:08 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I can easily imagine a Westerner who doesn't know any better (and has maybe learned everything from the movies) greeting any high-status Asian person with a cartoonishly low bow. It reads more like an Austin Powers goof than specific, culturally-literate message passing to me.
posted by penduluum at 5:26 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


in the one Inspector O novel, O is over in Geneva attending some sort of talks with various western nations. This was set during the famine in the 90s.

The plot revolved around the idea that there was the capability of producing nuclear missiles and launching them in NK. And of course everyone wanted to control who NK was selling these missiles to.

Anyways, the guy who is in charge of O's mission tells him that his job (O) is to not spread the message NK is starving and looking for food and they'd trade missiles for it. The message to spread was that that were crazy from lack of food, so who knows what they'd do?

Yes, I realize it's novel, but it is supposedly written by a former CIA dude who worked extensively there. And sounds like the weird sort of things that political operatives do.

It has made me wonder tho about how the top brass in NK thinks about their place in the world.

Maybe they decide to "detain" Rodman and these other people. I doubt we're gonna start a war with them over some basketball dudes. We sent a former president over to rescue Laura Ling. What would we do to get back a whole bunch of sports celebrities? Give them money? Gifts? Some sort of power? I'm sure NK knows we aren't gonna just start bombing unless they kill someone and even then probably not.
posted by sio42 at 5:30 AM on January 9


They have enough conventional weapons targeted at Seoul to ensure that nobody is bombing unless they lob a nuke.
posted by fullerine at 5:39 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


His singing Happy Birthday to Kim had creepy shades of Marilyn singing to JFK.
posted by anothermug at 7:30 AM on January 9


...And now to really cross the line and sit down and write some Rodman / Kim Jong-un slash fiction...
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:41 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


It's like some weird North Korean version of The Toy.
posted by Caskeum at 5:51 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


I can easily imagine a Westerner who doesn't know any better (and has maybe learned everything from the movies) greeting any high-status Asian person with a cartoonishly low bow. It reads more like an Austin Powers goof than specific, culturally-literate message passing to me.

Surely you're not referring to this!
posted by Pararrayos at 5:56 AM on January 9


I sincerely doubt Dennis Rodman is a State Department (or CIA or anything else) mole: not to say that everyone who works for State is the sharpest knife in the drawer or anything, but there's no way they're all so nuts as to believe they can control or trust a loose cannon like Rodman.

Yeah, if there's one thing the State Department hates is volatility and unpredictability. Rodman would be the worst pick ever for mole. This would be like tapping me for etiquette training for ambassadors to China.

I think Rodman is an embarrassment. I think Kim-Un wants to be a Bond villain like his father, but is instead a puppet prince. I also think this whole thing will become an international shit storm at some point. I also wouldn't be surprised if Rodman's bigger role is to become a martyr for one side or the other. Death or defection. There I'm on the record. Let's revisit this comment in 5 years.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:56 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


Even assuming Rodman is off on a jolly of his own, it would be entirely possible for the State Department or CIA to tap up one of his cohort, so it might be that there are various things going on here at the same time.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:57 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Just be a wee bit pedantic. "Dear Leader" refers, specifically, to Kim Jong-il. Kim Il-sung was the "Great Leader". AFAIK, Kim Jong-un does not have any such honorofic (besides "Supreme Leader" which is father also held, and was a specific ranking type title that's shared between people).
posted by symbioid at 6:01 AM on January 9 [12 favorites]


Rodman's big in NK and lots of north Asia because a Mongolian Christian satellite station started airing reruns of NBA starting in the mid-1990s.

I thought Kim-Jong Un was a big Bulls fan primarily because of Kim-Jong Il's personal sushi chef, who was eventually trusted to babysit the kids including Kim-Jong Un.

---------------------------
JOHNSON: Kim Jong Il deeply trusted Fujimoto, so much so that he made Fujimoto the nanny for his boys - including Kim Jong Un, who was only 7 at the time. Fujimoto would teach them boy activities that they've never heard of, like video games and roller-skating, and things like that. But most importantly, he thought the boys should learn basketball.

He had Kim Jong Il make a court, and he got videotapes. And the tapes he got were the Bulls' championship run in which Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen became the best in the world. And this is what young Kim Jong Un looked up to, and these players became his heroes.
---------------------------

Obviously Jordan and Pippen aren't booking flights to NK with an invitation from Dear Leader, but Rodman? Of course he wound jump at the chance for some attention.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:04 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Rodman should offer himself up in trade for Bae.
posted by planetesimal at 6:09 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


You're allowed to travel to Cuba, you just aren't allowed to spend money in Cuba.
posted by empath at 6:20 AM on January 9


I sincerely doubt Dennis Rodman is a State Department (or CIA or anything else) mole [...] but there's no way they're all so nuts as to believe they can control or trust a loose cannon like Rodman.

You'd be surprised. Intelligence agencies love fantasists, idealists, romanitcs and antiauthoritarians, and even better if they are greedy, in debt or blackmailable. It is precisely from these ranks that many an intelligence asset comes. A huge part of an intelligence officer's job is working out precisely how to find, manage and motivate these people.

Now, it's also entirely possible too that they've taken one look at him and decided against it. But I would bet my left nut they've had a very serious conversation internally about whether it's worth using him, assuming they are not.

Not all intelligence assets have to do difficult things. They just have to do valuable things. What all intelligence assets share is access, which is the main issue with getting reliable information on North Korea.

An intelligence agency might simply, for example, have asked Rodman to take lots of photos of Kim and the people who hang round him. They might have a gentle interview about who looked like they were inner circle. They don't have to ask Rodman to dress in black cargo pants and abseil into Kim's nuclear bunker with a datastick and a copy of "Hacking for Dummies".
posted by MuffinMan at 6:23 AM on January 9 [16 favorites]


dennis rodman is unwell. he's not just kooky and defiant - he's dual diagnosis unwell and i'm sure this is just feeding into all of that. he needs some serious mariah carey type therapy and recovery. i will admit that in all the ways i imagined his continued downward spiral, i never thought he'd play the generals to north korea's globetrotters.
posted by nadawi at 6:29 AM on January 9 [14 favorites]


They don't have to ask Rodman to dress in black cargo pants and abseil into Kim's nuclear bunker with a datastick and a copy of "Hacking for Dummies".

Let me guess that at some point he has to enter a password or else all the oxygen will be sucked out of the room, and his NSA handlers on the other end of his secret radio link have no idea what it could be until he takes a wild guess that it's 'BeLikeMike' which successfully grants him access and provides the opportunity to make some sort of snarky, self-deprecating remark about being the wrong man for the job.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:39 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]


nadwai's comment for real. I was straight-up feeling bad for his teammates in that CNN vid.
posted by angrycat at 6:39 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Rodman's big in NK and lots of north Asia because a Mongolian Christian satellite station started airing reruns of NBA starting in the mid-1990s.

Do you have a cite for this? North Koreans caught watching Mongolian Christian satellite stations in the mid-1990s would have been executed or sent to labor camps for a very long time.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:49 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "dennis rodman is unwell. he's not just kooky and defiant - he's dual diagnosis unwell and i'm sure this is just feeding into all of that. he needs some serious mariah carey type therapy and recovery."

Yes. Preferably out of the spotlight and not on a television show. He's done at least two or three of those "Dr. Drew"-type shows, and they would appear to have done more harm than good.
posted by zarq at 6:55 AM on January 9


Dennis Rodman apologizes for North Korea outburst, says he'd been drinking.
posted by Nelson at 6:55 AM on January 9


Nelson: "Dennis Rodman apologizes for North Korea outburst, says he'd been drinking."

That caption says: "Rodman made his fourth visit to North Korea, one of the world's most totalitarian states"

Are there shades of totalitarianism? I would have thought you're either totalitarian, or not.
posted by chavenet at 7:03 AM on January 9


Rodman has been burning the candle from both ends for decades. You simply can't do the sheer amount of alcohol and drugs that he's been doing for ages and not have it result in a lot of damage to yourself. Yeah he might be the next Keith Richards embalmed in alcohol and drugs but chances are that he's effectively circling the tank and this is one of the few outlets he has left for maintaining the fame and notoriety and life style he's clearly accustomed to. It's a shame because he was always one of my favorite players (even as a Bull) because he wasn't the most physically gifted player but he could defend anyone.

But he's undeniably troubled.
posted by vuron at 7:03 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I sincerely doubt Dennis Rodman is a State Department (or CIA or anything else) mole: not to say that everyone who works for State is the sharpest knife in the drawer or anything, but there's no way they're all so nuts as to believe they can control or trust a loose cannon like Rodman.

I'm kind of imagining the scene where the shadowy handler slams his fist down on the desk and growls "You're a loose cannon, Rodman!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:06 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


I made $50M during my Pro career but now can't pay for my kids welfare so I need to North Korea I don't even
posted by gwint at 7:08 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


You're allowed to travel to Cuba, you just aren't allowed to spend money in Cuba.

Have they eased restrictions in the last 10 years? Last time I looked in to it (late 90's I'd guess), you had to go on some sort of trumped-up humanitarian mission to deliver medical goods, or else travel first through Mexico & hope the US didn't find out that you then travelled from Mexico to Cuba.

In the 90's, the Cubans were issuing a paper visa that you could keep in your passport, then discard when you returned to mexico, rather than stamping your passport. I know of a few folks who did that successfully, but It was still dicey.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:09 AM on January 9


zarq - oh yeah. that's why i mention mariah carey - she went away for some time (and not just her hospitalization, there was extended work away from the limelight) and came back better. she's always going to be a little eccentric, but she at least seems much healthier than she was during the era right around cribs and glitter. the reality shows are just like north korea, people exploiting a sick man, and that sick man gleefully signing up for it. i never thought i'd compare dr. drew and donald trump to kim-jong un, but here we are.
posted by nadawi at 7:11 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Rodman is an example of the bad financial decisions made by professional athletes.

Shocker.
posted by goethean at 7:15 AM on January 9


I, for one, forgive him. We should not be putting our dreams of diplomacy and rationality into the hands of a broke, drunk, athlete. Athletes are not automatically role models.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:18 AM on January 9


In the 90's, the Cubans were issuing a paper visa that you could keep in your passport

South Africa and Israel both used to do it too.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:25 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Devils Rancher: Have they eased restrictions in the last 10 years? Last time I looked in to it (late 90's I'd guess), you had to go on some sort of trumped-up humanitarian mission to deliver medical goods, or else travel first through Mexico & hope the US didn't find out that you then travelled from Mexico to Cuba.

Yeah, I just got back from Havana a week ago, where I met a few groups of Americans. Basically you can get a permit from the US government to go there for almost anything. This group from San Fran I met were there on an "educational exchange". I also went to visit one of the synagogues there where an 89 year old named Shlomo told me that a group of 35 Jewish Americans were coming that Friday for a month. As well, I have a bunch of American friends who blagged a permit in 2013 to go down.

As for travelling through Canada to get down to Cuba, the Americans used to take fuckin' photos of US travellers doing this in our Toronto airport and then bust them when they returned home.

Devils Rancher: In the 90's, the Cubans were issuing a paper visa that you could keep in your passport...

They still do that, even for non-Americans. As does the DPRK. Lord knows I tried to get a stamp when I was there.
posted by gman at 7:29 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Have they eased restrictions in the last 10 years? Last time I looked in to it (late 90's I'd guess), you had to go on some sort of trumped-up humanitarian mission to deliver medical goods, or else travel first through Mexico & hope the US didn't find out that you then travelled from Mexico to Cuba.

I know some people who have been granted specific licenses to travel to Cuba to visit immediate family. It's only changed since the Obama administration and it has to be negotiated with the state department. My understanding is that you can't go and play tourist, but you can go see a parent.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:31 AM on January 9


Apparently, it's more open than I thought. Since I live in Miami, I've only encountered those who were going back to visit family.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:33 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


*opens thread about Dennis Rodman and North Korea*

*reads about traveling to Cuba*
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:34 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


From what I was hearing last night, Rodman originally went over there basically as a bribe from VICE to allow their film crew in, which makes all of this that much weirder, to me.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:36 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


You're allowed to travel to Cuba, you just aren't allowed to spend money in Cuba.

Re: Cuba, Obama losened the rules for Americans entering Cuba; you need to get an exemption from the Treasury department, strangely, to go there. That is how Beyonce and Jay-Z, among others, ended up there. Completely legal. There are planes flying back and forth from Miami to Havana all the time.

Here is my travel log of a recent trip around Cuba.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:37 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


> We should not be putting our dreams of diplomacy and rationality into the hands of a broke, drunk, athlete. Athletes are not automatically role models.

And no one is putting any dreams of diplomacy in his hands, as the State Department categorically is opposed to his visits.
posted by planetesimal at 7:37 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


*reads about traveling to Cuba*

Sorry. Done.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:38 AM on January 9


chavenet: "Are there shades of totalitarianism? I would have thought you're either totalitarian, or not."

Sure there is; all implementation of ideologies are on a continuum. So you may say, for example, that California with it's proposition system is more democratic than a state that doesn't have that system. A totalitarian regime attempts to control virtually all aspects of the social life including economy, education, art, science, private life and morals of citizens. How succesful they are in that attempt will determine how totalitarian they are.
posted by Mitheral at 7:42 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I see this as a natural extension of the celebrity-dabbling-in-politics thing. They're always amazingly clueless, full of fatuous cliches.

Rodman is seeing this like it's the Cold War and he's acting as a goodwill ambassador between the superpowers. He somehow doesn't realize that he's actually in some extraordinarily perverse immoral codependency with one of the world's few true murderous absolute dictators who happens to be a fanatical NBA fan and so is delighted to have his very own pet NBA star who can both entertain him while also embarrassing his enemies.

This sort of thing is pretty common among a certain set of over-the-hill movie stars and athletes and such — many of them pal around with some of the world's wealthiest villains.

But this example is extreme. North Korea is truly a pariah state and also extraordinarily dangerous — not so much because of its nukes, but because of everything else. There's a sense that anything could happen with North Korea, they could light up the whole peninsula in an inferno for no reason that anyone would ever know.

A celebrity hobnobbing with the dictator is just ... irresponsible. It's not about American interests. It's pretty much about everyone's interests. You build cultural bridges with the people, not the tyrant. This is just giving the tyrant a toy to play with. And that makes the adults nervous, with good reason.

But American celebrities, especially, are geopolitically naive. "Naive" is probably too kind a word. "Pig-ignorant" is probably more accurate. Sing a song about peace, play basketball for peace. What could go wrong?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:45 AM on January 9 [10 favorites]



And no one is putting any dreams of diplomacy in his hands, as the State Department categorically is opposed to his visits.
posted by planetesimal at 7:37 AM on January 9 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Right on. A rare instance of the gov't reflecting the will of the people.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:04 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Noisy Pink Bubbles - Re: Cuba, Obama losened the rules for Americans entering Cuba; you need to get an exemption from the Treasury department, strangely, to go there

planetismal - the State Department categorically is opposed to his visits [to NK].

...and yet he's able to go, apparently without any problems. Given the length of time for which it was illegal for US citizens to travel to Cuba, and that there are restrictions even now, I'm kind of amazed that it's legal to travel to NK. Surely NK is a much worse regime than Cuba was ever accused of being?

And how is Rodman travelling - via China? The list of countries whose air traffic controllers will look at their screens and say "Coming in from North Korea, you say? No problem, runway 2 please!" must be pretty short.
posted by metaBugs at 8:06 AM on January 9


metaBugs: I'm kind of amazed that it's legal to travel to NK. Surely NK is a much worse regime than Cuba was ever accused of being?

Not many North Koreans voting in Florida, are there?

I swear, half the tourists I met in DPRK were American.
posted by gman at 8:09 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


And how is Rodman travelling - via China? Only 0.7 days at sea via the short route or 71 days the long way.
Bonus trivia: He may have special qualifications for this route.
posted by achrise at 8:30 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Do you have a cite for this? North Koreans caught watching Mongolian Christian satellite stations in the mid-1990s would have been executed or sent to labor camps for a very long time.

For the elites (Rodman's audience, rather than everyone else) it is probably okay. A Korean commentator mentioned that US classical orchestras never get this kind of attention when they make goodwill visits to NK, but then again I doubt they are singing happy birthday to a dictator.

Anyway may we all look forward to the day Kim Jong Un is strung up by his heels like Mussolini.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:30 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


You can also take a train to Pyongang, if you're gutsy. Results may vary.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:33 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Rodman's big in NK and lots of north Asia because a Mongolian Christian satellite station started airing reruns of NBA starting in the mid-1990s.

China's CCTV started broadcasting NBA games in 1987. Surely that's a more likely source.
posted by bradf at 8:36 AM on January 9


Any info at all that discusses how in the hell North Koreans were watching foreign broadcasts of NBA games in the mid-1990s, I'd love to read.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:42 AM on January 9


AFAICT, the only restrictions on Americans traveling to North Korea are imposed by the North Koreans. The American government warns that it might not be a good idea, but don't have any legal problem with you going.

Surely NK is a much worse regime than Cuba was ever accused of being?

To state the obvious, NK and Cuba are two different countries and America has a different policy for each. American state hostility towards a country doesn't always correlate with that regime's moral legitimacy, to put it generously.

American policy towards Cuba is all kinds of batshit insane for a number of reasons, including proximity, history and the existence of a domestic pressure group of (some) influental Cuban Americans that views anything short of a revanchist policy towards Cuba as unacceptably hawkish.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:43 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


influental Cuban Americans that views anything short of a revanchist policy towards Cuba as unacceptably hawkish

"Hawkish" a typo for "dovish" I assume? Otherwise, yes, exactly. The real problem with comparing policy towards NK and Cuba is that the histories of relationships with the two nations are so radically different. You can't just look at each in a vacuum and say "how would we ideally deal with each country, all other things being equal." Everything about relationships with Cuba is shaped by a very specific history and often very local political calculi. If Florida wasn't a swing state, for example, things would be very different.
posted by yoink at 8:56 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]



Rodman's big in NK and lots of north Asia because a Mongolian Christian satellite station started airing reruns of NBA starting in the mid-1990s.


It was called Eagle TV and they started airing in 1997, here is an earlier article about its set up. I only learned about the sushi chef just now and think that is fascinating. But, I recall from the NPR piece that Eagle TV was a satellite station, so it reached NK although only people with free-to-air satellite dishes would have received the transmission.
posted by parmanparman at 9:04 AM on January 9


Rodman's big in NK and lots of north Asia because a Mongolian Christian satellite station started airing reruns of NBA starting in the mid-1990s.

That may be, but Kim Jong-Un spent the mid-1990s in Switzerland.

Kim Jung Un is approximately 30 years old. The Jordan-era Bulls were a big deal to kids his age back then -- even North Korean ones in Swiss boarding schools. He's paying to hang out with his boyhood idols (the ones that could use the money, anyway), just like every megarich asshole does. I really don't think there's much more to it than that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:12 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


That is interesting, parmanparman, but I still can't quite believe that any North Koreans who were not members of the Kim family were watching Mongolian television in the mid-90s. Partly because so few people had televisions, partly because electricity only worked 30 minutes/day, and partly because watching said programming would have resulted in re-education. Exposure via chef showing VHS tapes to a young Kim or via Swiss boarding school seems much more plausible.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:12 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Dwyane Wade almost traveled to North Korea too.
posted by mullacc at 9:30 AM on January 9


Dennis Rodman apologizes for North Korea outburst, says he'd been drinking.

Sure, blame it all on Vin Baker. Rodman's always been a sad case to me as his career took off just about the time I got a subscription to Sports Illustrated and I remember being about 13 or 14 reading about someone finding him in the parking lot of the arena (either the Silverdome or the just-built Palace), sitting in his truck with a rifle. No one ever got him the help he needed or he just can't take the help that's offered. Either way I wish better things for him.
posted by yerfatma at 9:33 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Given how Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck are active visitors to the DPRK, there's only one explanation for this: Spacejam.
posted by dr_dank at 9:35 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I would love a bleak indie film about Rodman's DPRK downward spiral that uses downtempo minor key covers of the songs on the Space Jam soundtrack (maybe Will Oldham can do them).
posted by jason_steakums at 9:38 AM on January 9 [12 favorites]


Boy, putting aside all context, I really feel for Charles Smith in that video. He's all like, "Your Honor, please let me assure you that my client is a totally reasonable man, and that the alleged crime is actually just a misunderst-"

"LET ME TELL YOU WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, JUDGE: WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU IS THAT YOU SUCK!"
posted by Flunkie at 9:51 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I can easily imagine a Westerner who doesn't know any better (and has maybe learned everything from the movies) greeting any high-status Asian person with a cartoonishly low bow. It reads more like an Austin Powers goof than specific, culturally-literate message passing to me.

The first day of my tour in the DPRK, we were all brought in front of a gigantic bronze colossus of the Great Leader, and bowed. That's pretty clearly stupid - it's a fuckin' statue for one - but if that's what the locals think is important to respect, then I'm going to respect it. I take off my shoes when I visit a mosque for the same reason; that's the local custom and if I don't want to obey local customs, I don't have to go there; I could just go to Epcot or something instead. I'm Canadian, and last fall when I was at Fenway, I stood and took my hat off for the Star-Spangled Banner, even though it's not my country, not my anthem, and actually, my guys were the ones bursting the bombs in the air.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:54 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


Rodman is going farther than most, but there's a long line of pop singers who have done private performances for brutal dictators.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 9:56 AM on January 9


They don't have to ask Rodman to dress in black cargo pants and abseil into Kim's nuclear bunker with a datastick and a copy of "Hacking for Dummies".

Let me guess that at some point he has to enter a password or else all the oxygen will be sucked out of the room, and his NSA handlers on the other end of his secret radio link have no idea what it could be until he takes a wild guess that it's 'BeLikeMike' which successfully grants him access and provides the opportunity to make some sort of snarky, self-deprecating remark about being the wrong man for the job.



I would totally Netflix this late at night after I couldn't find anything better.
posted by stenseng at 9:57 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Rodman is an example of the bad financial decisions made by professional athletes.

Most people get through life being quite good at a few things, typically (but not always) the thing they end up doing for a living (or they become quite good at it because they do it for a living, and practice leads to competency.) Only a very small percentage of people reach the highest-performing end of the distribution curve, skills-wise, for even a single thing; expecting those people to also be capable of managing their money effectively is not a reasonable expectation, in particular because people on that end of the curve often have careers that require their full time and attention. Even when they hire someone(s) to manage their finances, they're the ones choosing who to hire (directly or indirectly) and hiring competent, credible people is also a learned skill.

Hell, look at someone like Donald Trump: he's at the highest-performing end of the distribution curve for making and managing money, and they guy can't even be a decent human being or get a decent haircut. Exceptionally high performance in one area often equates to woeful inadequacy in other areas, and not just for athletes.

This is why I believe money management needs to be part of core curriculum in schools, beginning in elementary school. Effective money management is critical to a successful life in a first-world country, and kids should make it to high school at least understanding how to do it (or understanding that they can't, and need assistance.)
posted by davejay at 11:09 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Obviously there are delightful exceptions, among athletes and other high-performing successful people
posted by davejay at 11:11 AM on January 9


I only learned about the sushi chef just now and think that is fascinating.

I posted a link to the short NPR blurb when I should have posted the complete GQ article instead. It's an amazing story.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:20 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Dennis Rodman's sort of the Marilyn Manson of basketball or something, right?
posted by acb at 2:15 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Pretty much, yep.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:20 PM on January 9


In what sense? Marilyn Manson generally strikes me as a thoughtful individual. Rodman doesn't.
posted by Flunkie at 2:35 PM on January 9


But who is the Larry Bird of 90's shock rock?
posted by jason_steakums at 2:39 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


marilyn manson is so thoughtful he went on an extended bender with 19 year old evan rachel wood and didn't find out dita von teese had left him on christmas eve until after the new year when he was served with divorce papers. charming.

i honestly see their personalities as pretty similar - outrageous antics born of deep insecurities buttressed by addiction and ego.
posted by nadawi at 4:06 PM on January 9


You know, there are heaps of science fiction stories about augmented humanity that include varieties of notional computing technology to be used as an offboard-brain in one way or another -- to archive memories that the wetware just can't hold after centuries-long extended lifespans or whatever.

I'm beginning to feel these days that I need that kind of technology just to handle the vast shifting incandescent shoals and constellations of anger that's inspired in me by the growing ubiquity of stupidity, cupidity, and just plain assholery out there. I need an anger coprocessor.

Or just to figure out how to ignore this shit. Because it can't be good for my health.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:14 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't know, I guess I don't keep up on all the latest Marilyn Manson gossip, and I don't even know who the other two people you mentioned are. All I know is I've seen and heard several interviews with Manson that are like this, and several with Rodman that are like the one linked to in this post.
posted by Flunkie at 6:52 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Who among us could have picked Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov out of a lineup?

Not me, and I know how horrible Turkmenistan is. But they have oil, so they're okay.
posted by Mezentian at 6:54 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


eh, all that says is that performing that sort of thoughtfulness is more important in manson's career than rodman's. he tells a good line, but i still think at their core they have similar dysfunctions and self defeating behaviors.
posted by nadawi at 7:15 PM on January 9


The first day of my tour in the DPRK, we were all brought in front of a gigantic bronze colossus of the Great Leader, and bowed. That's pretty clearly stupid - it's a fuckin' statue for one - but if that's what the locals think is important to respect, then I'm going to respect it. I take off my shoes when I visit a mosque for the same reason...

Being forced to obey the whims of the dictator is not a local custom worthy of respect.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:37 AM on January 10


It does tend to come when one visits a dictatorship, and since they tend to be pretty quick to fucking you up for no big thing, sometimes you just bow.

(You can elect to flip the bird while you're doing it though)
posted by Mezentian at 3:38 AM on January 10


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