Former NBA star Dennis Rodman suggested Tuesday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un wants to do good things for North Korea but is held back by the system his father and grandfather created.
“[Kim] is in a position where he probably wants to do a lot of things that are really positive,” the retired basketball star told AFP in Beijing. “I think that the structure of the system just don’t let him do it. I’ve seen that.” Rodman explained that the young despot is taking the heat for decisions made by “tryants” like his father and grandfather.
Rodman, who calls the dictator a “friend for life,” has visited North Korea five times and has spent time with Kim shooting hoops, playing drinking games, riding horses, and singing karaoke. He even held Kim’s daughter when she was a baby.
He has repeatedly stressed that Kim, who Rodman characterizes as a “21st-century guy,” does not want war, arguing that “ain’t nobody got no finger on the button.”
RAND Corporation Senior Defense Analyst Bruce Bennett described Kim as the “most dangerous man” in the world, highlighting the regime’s brutality. When Kim took power from after his father passed away just over five years ago, he violently purged hundreds of North Korean officials, executing them and their families.
“The regime killed hundreds of people, including officials, their friends, their families, and even children with heavy machine guns,” North Korean defector Ri Jong Ho told Voice of America this past summer. Others were dispatched to prison camps, where most of the world’s worst human rights abuses can be found.
Kim also had his uncle executed for alleged crimes against the state, and there is strong evidence to suggest that he had his half-brother Kim Jong Nam assassinated in Malaysia earlier this year.
To top it all off, Kim is actively pushing his country to develop weapons of mass destruction and regularly threatening to end the lives of millions of people in South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. Just last month, the North tested an intercontinental ballistic missile able to range the entire continental U.S., and two months prior, the North detonated a staged thermonuclear bomb built to level cities.
Rodman appears to believe that Kim is not as bad as he seems and is simply misunderstood. He has called for dialogue between Kim and Trump, offered his services as a peace envoy, and even proposed organizing a basketball game between Guam, which the rogue regime threatened to destroy in August, and North Korea to show that “there’s no hatred at all.”
“I think people don’t see him as … a friendly guy,” Rodman said of Kim in June, adding that “if you actually talk to him,” people might see another side of Kim.
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