Kim's soulmate Rodman may be here next week

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju with former NBA star Dennis Rodman at an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang in 2013.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju with former NBA star Dennis Rodman at an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang in 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

NBA star turned Kim Jong Un soulmate Dennis Rodman could be in Singapore next week, according to a report.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Mr Rodman will arrive in Singapore a day before the June 12 summit.

 

Mr Rodman, a flamboyant personality who is known for his tattoos, body piercings and multicoloured hair, has struck up an unlikely bromance with Mr Kim, an avid sports fan and basketball lover.

The New York Post cited sources as saying that Mr Rodman, nicknamed The Worm, could even play some sort of role in the negotiations.

"No matter what you might think about his presence, one thing's for sure: The ratings will be huge," a source was quoted as saying.

"A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy, countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill, and whether you agree with it or not, Dennis Rodman fits the bill."

Mr Darren Prince, Mr Rodman's representative, said no trip to Singapore had been confirmed but that the 57-year-old would be willing to go if his expertise were needed.

 
 
 
 
 

"He has talked about it, but no final trip or plans have been made," he was quoted by the Post as saying.

Mr Rodman has taken some of the credit for getting the two leaders together. In an April interview, he said Mr Kim did not understand the President until he gave the North Korean strongman a copy of Mr Trump's book The Art Of The Deal for his birthday last year.

"I think (Kim) didn't realise who Donald Trump was at that time, I guess, until he started to read the book and started to get to understand him. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are pretty much the same," Mr Rodman told the TMZ website. "I don't want to take all the credit. I don't want to sit there and say, 'I did this, I did that'. That is not my intention," Mr Rodman told the website.

He visited North Korea in 2013 to host some basketball exhibitions. There, he met Mr Kim, who is a basketball fan, and the pair struck up an unlikely friendship.

Last August, Mr Rodman, who was a contestant on Mr Trump's reality television show Celebrity Apprentice, said the exchange of fiery rhetoric between Mr Trump and Mr Kim and brinkmanship filled with nuclear threats was "more like two big kids deciding who is the toughest".

Mr Michael Madden, a North Korean leadership expert and visiting scholar at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in an article for the BBC that basketball diplomacy might just work with North Korea.

Mr Madden said that if Mr Rodman were to turn up, "you shouldn't be surprised because both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un operate by trusting personal relationships".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Kim's soulmate Rodman may be here next week'. Print Edition | Subscribe