Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. He is a friend of the dictator, Kim Jong-un. And he has worked with Donald Trump, on The Celebrity Apprentice. In a report, the Associated Press has this fascinating sentence: “Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency as he talked to reporters briefly before his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital.”
I thought I would explain briefly why Rodman and Kim know each other. There have been three Kim dictators, as you recall: Kim Il-sung, the founder; Kim Jong-il, his son; and Kim Jong-un, his son. The second Kim — Jong-il — loved basketball. I mean, really, really loved it. He was a fanatic for the NBA, and his favorite player, naturally, was Michael Jordan.
In 2000, our secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, went to Pyongyang. She brought a gift, a peace offering, in a way: a basketball signed by Jordan.
It now resides in the International Friendship Exhibition Hall, along with — among other items — a crocodile briefcase from Fidel Castro and a gem-encrusted sword from Yasser Arafat.
Well, Jong-il passed on his love for basketball to his son Jong-un. (Another son likes Eric Clapton. Diff’rent strokes.) This explains the bond between Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman.
Very little is known about the dictator and his family, but Rodman has provided fascinating information — information that had not been known even by the best intelligence services in the world. For example, it is thanks to Rodman that we know the name of Kim’s daughter, apparently his first child: Ju-ae. How many children Kim has, no one knows.
If you are interested in this sort of thing, you will find it in my Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators.