As the world works to gain control over the coronavirus pandemic, all eyes have turned to leaders across the globe for guidance. However, in April 2020, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was noticeably absent from his post, sparking rumors about his health. While many outlets have reported that Kim might have entered a “vegetative state” or passed away after a “botched” heart procedure, the reports remain unconfirmed. On the contrary, South Korean officials have suggested he’s “alive and well,” adding to the uncertainty surrounding Kim’s status, per The New York Times.
NBA legend Dennis Rodman, however, hopes the rumors about his “friend for life” aren’t true. “I hope it’s just a rumor that Marshal Kim Jong Un is sick,” the former Chicago Bulls star told TMZ Sports. “Hopefully I will find out more soon.” After traveling to North Korea to meet with Kim in 2013, Rodman struck up an unlikely friendship with the North Korean dictator, per The Washington Post. Over the years, the Hall of Famer has offered to strengthen the relationship between the United States and North Korea on multiple occasions and hopes that he can try once again if and when Kim reappears.
“There is still so much work we have to do between both the USA and [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” Rodman added. “If he is not feeling well, I am praying for his speedy recovery, so that both my friends [President Trump & Marshal Kim] can continue towards a peaceful success.”
Rodman’s ambition could prove surprisingly helpful in today’s tumultuous global climate.
Dennis Rodman defended his unlikely friendship with Kim Jong Un
While North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has been hostile toward western countries in the past, he grew up with an affection for the NBA and the Chicago Bulls, in particular. In 2013, Kim invited Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, and the two bonded instantly. Yet, while Rodman received tons of criticism for his unexpected relationship with the foreign dictator, the former NBA star continues to defend their friendship. In September 2019, Rodman told Business Insider that Kim’s “not that type of person that you think that people portrayed him to be,” adding that he’s “cool and pretty nice.”
“If you sit down and talk to him with lunch and then shoot the s**t with him, I think you’ll say, ‘Well, this guy’s cool and pretty nice,'” Rodman explained. “I just think people need to understand, it’s like, if you took time out, if you can just visit and go hang out and you’ll see the people in North Korea that they have certain ways. You have to adapt to it, but that’s the culture and the way of life. It’s different, but it’s interesting to see.”
In 2013, after his trip to North Korea, Rodman told ABC’s The Week (via Newsweek): “He loves power. He loves control because of, you know, his dad and stuff like that, but he’s just a great guy.” It’s an odd dynamic, that’s for sure, but could their friendship inevitably help establish peace?
Dennis Rodman wants to facilitate peace between the United States and North Korea
Although President Donald Trump has engaged in peace talks with North Korean leader Kim Jon Un over the course of his presidential term, the two men have yet to come to an official agreement. However, according to Reuters, Rodman thinks Trump and Kim could work out a deal — and he’d be more than eager to help.
“I just think that we need to stay on the right path to make it work. So, I think that people should not give up on the U.S. trying to engage with North Korea in a good, safe manner,” Rodman said in 2019. “I think Kim Jong Un wants peace. I know him very well… People don’t realize that he wants to move on into the 21st century. I think he doesn’t want to give up his country. I don’t blame him.”
Rodman believes in the potential for peace so strongly that he even wrote a letter to Trump offering to help in any way he can. “We have a lot of work to do, but with your diverse team, amazing global contacts and willingness to think outside the box, we can have peace on the Korean Peninsula.”We really can,” Rodman wrote in February 2019 (via USA Today).
He continued, “You are on the cusp of a big, beautiful deal. One that would make you the front runner for a Nobel Peace Prize without question. You have my forever and forever support!”
Only time will tell if Rodman will get the opportunity to broker a deal.
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