Rodman Just a Toy for N. Korea's Kim: Op-ed by Professor Lee


Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star and the first American known to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is in the secretive country again, purportedly to meet his "friend Kim, the Marshal." And also, to negotiate for the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen detained since November.

Rodman's second trip to North Korea this year comes months after months of threats of nuclear annihilation from Pyongyang. His desire to help Bae is likely to be registered in the annals of diplomatic history as little more than a little diverting adventure.

But one never knows. The "Marshal," who has actually never served in the military, might choose to act in a statesmanlike manner and release Bae after another high-spirited soiree with the basketball legend. That would be good news for Bae, who is reportedly in poor health.

Such a dramatic gesture of goodwill by the reclusive leader would achieve the effect of adding insult to the United States in light of North Korea's recent cancellation of an invitation to the U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues.

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