In case you were wondering:
This despite Rodman's obvious, if preliminary, success at ingratiating himself with a historically taciturn North Korean leadership. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, U.S. State Department—this drying out period/jaunt through the Democratic People's Republic could well be the first step towards a demilitarized North Korea. Give the new era of Celebrity Rehab diplomacy a chance.
The State Department was, oddly, not opened-minded after Rodman's visit ended yesterday:
"The North Korean regime has a horrific human rights record, quite possibly the worst human rights situation in the world," spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters in Washington. He accused the regime of depriving their people of food, shelter, water and maintaining prison gulags.
Ventrell also took aim at Pyongyang for its grand treatment of the visiting basketball stars.
"Clearly you've got the regime spending money to wine and dine foreign visitors, when they should be feeding their own people," he said.
Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told the former Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls star that he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea, said Shane Smith, founder of the New York-based VICE media company.
Gulag this, gulag that—if the dictator is on board, what are you complaining about? Alas, Rodman is now in Beijing for whatever reason, and relations between the U.S. and North Korea remain chilly. We keep sending over our best and brightest, and Kim Jong-Un has yet to yield to democracy.
The State Department may have clarified Rodman's role, but our basketball-loving leader wouldn't comment:
Rodman's trip is the second attention-grabbing American visit this year to North Korea. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, made a four-day trip in January to Pyongyang, but did not meet the North Korean leader.
The Obama administration had frowned on the trip by Schmidt, who was accompanied by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, but has avoided criticizing Rodman's outing, saying it's about sports.
The new strategy for anyone hoping to breach the North Korean border without drawing the ire of the White House: Stick to sports.