Former NBA star #Dennis Rodman was in #North Korea for five days and has described the trip as a “really good” one. Before arriving in Pyongyang, he had indicated that his aim was to bring sports in a big way to the country. However, there is no feedback on the latest development in the field of sports. Moreover, he had met #Kim Jong Un, the leader of the country, during his previous visits but, this time, he avoided questions from the media about whether they had met.

Effects of the visit

Daily Mail reports that the media was curious to know if Dennis Rodman had any role to play in the release of Otto Warmbier, an American student who had been languishing in a North Korean jail.

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The student was released on the day Dennis landed in the country. Otto had been in prison for more than a year, and his physical condition was a matter of worry. However, Dennis maintained silence on the subject of whether there was any link between his arrival and Otto’s release.

It is a well-known fact that the regular missile testing carried out by North Korea has resulted in tension in the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang is developing a nuclear-tipped missile which will have sufficient range to strike targets in the United States mainland, and that is one of the main worries of President Donald Trump. Reports of gradual improvements in the performance of its missiles have added to the worries.

The visit of Rodman could have been a step towards normalizing relations via sports. He is a sportsman and is perceived to be a friend of Kim Jong Un.

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Hence, on the eve of the visit, there were speculations that the former NBA player could be arriving with an agenda that was not related to promotion of sports. That agenda could be to evolve a diplomatic breakthrough between Pyongyang and Washington. It is not known if such subjects had been discussed but, everyone is tightlipped, and the U.S. State Department has clarified that Rodman was traveling as a private citizen.

That agenda could be to evolve a diplomatic breakthrough between Pyongyang and Washington. It is not known if such subjects had been discussed but, everyone is tightlipped, and the U.S. State Department has clarified that Rodman was traveling as a private citizen.

Rodman’s basketball diplomacy

Dennis Rodman has made some trips to North Korea and in the course of his visits has developed a rapport with its leader Kim Jong Un. When Rodman visited in 2013 and 2014, he even participated in basketball games and celebrated Kim’s birthday. Apparently, he holds a special place in Pyongyang, and there were expectations that he could use his basketball diplomacy to influence the decision of Kim Jong Un.

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The U.S. government has issued travel warnings to Americans against going to North Korea but made an exception for Rodman. It is quite possible that he was trying to convince Kim Jong Un to leave the path of aggression and change tracks to bring peace to the peninsula. However, it is not known whether Dennis Rodman’s mission has succeeded.