Dennis Rodman for US President!

Ok, it got your attention at least. But Rodman—the former NBA star (aka “the Worm”)—could win the 6th Man Award in US diplomacy if he could get his North Korean buddy Kim Jong-un to chill out on his war threats against South Korea and the US.

After his recent tour of Pyongyang, Rodman declared the 28-year-old basketball-loving Supreme Leader his new BFF. So if diplomatic relations disintegrate further between North Korea and the US, who better to intermediate the conflict than the Worm?

If you weren't paying attention, North Korea—the most repressive and gulag-ridden state in the world—just this week declared void the Korean War armistice of 1953, implying that the war has never ended. (I hate it when that happens.) The new South Korean President, Park Guen-hye, calmly responded that if attacked she would reduce Pyongyang to a plate of gimchi. (Well, her exact words were the North Korean government would be “evaporated off the face of the earth.”) Why aren’t world leaders taking the prospect of war more seriously? Apparently the South Korean military leaders didn’t even interrupt their weekend golfing to prepare themselves for total destruction, so maybe they know something.

As usual, the media trivialized the story of Rodman’s trip to Pyongyang and missed the big picture. Even ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who interviewed DR 10 days ago, did not ask the question on the minds of millions of North Korea watchers around the world. Namely, can the 5’ 2” Supreme Leader dunk?

But just as important to many of our readers: the Supreme Leader’s brother, Kim Jong-chol, happens to be a HUGE Eric Clapton fan and has even been spotted at Clapton concerts in Germany and Singapore. Perhaps this was the reason his father and former Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il did not choose Jong-chol to succeed him? Maybe the elder Kim did not want to hear “Crossroads” (let alone “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Cocaine”) blaring on North Korean state radio?

Meanwhile, we’re not sure about the young Supreme Leader’s own musical tastes. He supposedly loves Western culture. (If he likes basketball so much wouldn’t he be down with rap?) Yet he put a prominent military leader before a firing squad a few months ago for some heavy partying and drinking. That might put a damper on the number of musical artists who would consider adding Pyongyang to their itinerary. But maybe the abstemious Kim would be happy with Pat Boone?

Yes, you just can’t make this stuff up. Now we just need a good nickname for the North Korean leader, to go with the nickname of his buddy. If he can dunk, maybe we can call him “the Butterfly”?

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  1. Well, what’s not to like about KJU? Sure, he summarily executes or imprisons everyone who crosses him, but it’s not easy being the Supreme Leader (especially of the world’s biggest madhouse). The "hermit kingdom” is the most dysfunctional society on earth — a cognitively insulated state that believes the most deranged, obtuse, paranoid fantasies about the West (which the military is all-too-happy to use to justify a high-security state).

    With this in mind, I’ve wondered whether KJU who was raised by his father to accept bizarro myths, might actually believe — sincerely — in his own rhetoric. (Of course a more likely theory is that he’s ratcheting up the tough talk to keep the military on its toes and off his back.) But either way, an appearance by an NBA star whom Kim adulates (maybe because DR is a legitimate lunatic, not a wannabe like himself) might actually be a good thing. Maybe Kim is thinking, “If all Americans are as bat-crazy as DR, who knows WHAT they’re capable of doing if I attack them?”

    The one flaw in my otherwise sparkling analysis is that the Supreme Leader — and his brother — were educated as kids in Switzerland for a few years, so they got to see the world outside the psycho ward. Kim’s brother apparently liked it and still hangs out in the real world. But Kim Jong-un only liked the video games and basketball and was happy to drop out of school and return to the happy kingdom. (Shockingly, he was……wait for this……an unimpressive student.)

    Anyway, this is a power couple to pay attention to: the Worm & the Butterfly.

  2. It's a tribute to the willfully ignorant, bling bling violence-promoting misogynist hip hop ghetto basketball gang culture of Dennis Rodman that he could ignore the universal starvation, the massive political repression and concentration camps, the institutionalized torture and near-genocidal slaughter that has become the hallmark of North Korea under his new BFF Caligula-clone Kim Jong-un.

  3. Well, one is to not to let your brand “go negative by association.” (See earlier post on that topic.) Palling around with psycho-despots doesn’t improve Rodman’s resume (except as a perennial reality-TV character). And shooting hoops with an American harlequin—who’s a goofball even by Western standards—doesn’t enhance young Kim Jong-un’s reputation as a mature, serious leader—especially in the eyes of the People’s Army. (Would it be wildly speculative to suggest that Kim’s recent bellicose blustering with So. Korea and the US is in reaction to backlash he’s received from military leaders for his tête à tête with DR?)

    Said simply: if you’re a public brand, choose carefully the peeps you hang with.

    Another lesson, though not as widely applicable: if you’re next in line to become dictator of a massively repressive, culturally backward kingdom, don’t be an Eric Clapton groupie.

  4. I think there's another lesson. Sometimes it helps to have a maverick look at your business and offer an analysis: it confirms what your gut told you in the first place.

  5. Interesting thought, Mark. Perhaps Dennis offered his analysis of the Supreme Leader's management model or the efficiency of North Korean internment camps. (The Worm appeared to give an all-encompassing high grade to the leader's work: “awesome.”) Perhaps the young dictator gave the star athlete some tips on dressing for success — or going to the basket more. Either way, this meeting will go down in history as one of the seminal political events of the 21st century, on a par with Nixon going to China in 1972. And don’t be surprised to see Kim Jong-un’s snappy gray Mao jacket dominate Western fashion for years to come.

  6. Wouldn't it be fantastic, just once, please please please, to get the auditor's report and read: "We reviewed BigCo's purchasing policy and attendant authority levels, support systems and management controls. We found them all to be awesome."

  7. Yes, yes! "Awesome" has become one of my favorite adjectives for evaluating performance. It's clear, precise, incisive, and penetrating. Awesome comment, Mark.

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