In an interview with BBC earlier this week, an expert on North Korea from Johns Hopkins made two unsettling points:
(1) Far from pursuing a policy that differs from its predecessors, this administration has been doing more of the same, the only differences being a more openly aggressive swagger and the childish name calling that threatens to paint both countries into a corner from which the only way out is war; and
(2) There are only two people in the entire state department who have ever even spoken to a North Korean.
Moreover, we still don’t have an ambassador to South Korea.
But we do have “The Worm” – the nickname of retired Hall-of-Fame basketball player, Dennis Rodman, about whom I’ve written several times in the past. He’s a bit bizarre – for example, he wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography, Bad as I Wanna Be. But he has probably visited North Korea more than any other American, he’s called Kim Jong Un “a friend for life,” and he sang happy birthday to him at a basketball game he had arranged in Pyongyang. He is also said to be the only person who is friends with both Kim and Donald Trump, whom he supported in 2016.
Rodman was back in North Korea in June, presenting officials with a copy of The Art of the Deal – all of which led The Guardian to ask whether “a troubled basketball legend/terrible actor/reality show star could actually end up helping to avert a nuclear war?”
We do live in strange times.