Dennis Rodman, with a Penchant for Diplomacy, Plans Vacations to the Vatican and North Korea

The "diplomats" who vacay together, stay together.

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Jason Mojica / VICE Media / AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea on Feb. 28, 2013.

Fresh off his “basketball diplomacy” mission to North Korea, Dennis Rodman seems committed to continuing his journey of offbeat trips. After taking in a basketball game and copious partying with North Korea’s Supreme Leader, he’s reportedly planning a meet-and-greet with another major international figure: the pope.

The NBA Hall of Fame star seems bent on spreading his “peace-making” skills across the world, and with all eyes currently on the Vatican, Rodman has apparently figured he should inject himself into the conversation — in his typical over-exaggerated style, of course. According to the Associated Press, Rodman is planning to arrive in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. And he won’t make a quiet entrance — he’ll be riding in a makeshift popemobile and launching a campaign for Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana to be elected as the first black pope.

And after his whirlwind trip to Rome, Rodman won’t be staying grounded for long. He’s already got his eye on the Eastern Hemisphere once again. Rodman told KXJB radio station in Fargo, N.D. that he’s planning a return visit to North Korea in August to vacation with the despotic leader Rodman has called a “friend for life,” a “good guy” and a “great leader.”

Late last month, Rodman became the first known American to meet Kim Jong Un, heading to the country as part of a VICE documentary and appearing cheery with Kim while attending an exhibition basketball game between the Harlem Globetrotters and North Korea’s basketball “dream team” in the capital city of Pyongyang. The visit, however, enraged diplomats in Washington, as it wasn’t an official act of U.S. diplomacy — instead, the tale of his journey will eventually be told in documentary series currently in production on HBO (which, like TIME, is owned by Time Warner).

(MORE: Could Dennis Rodman’s North Korea Trip Affect U.S. Policy?)

While the unlikely pair shared meals and court-side laughs, relations between their respective countries haven’t been so cordial — even since the visit. North Korea has threatened the U.S. with “miserable destruction” not long after the country tested nuclear and long-range missile weapons earlier this year. And just this week the belligerent nation carried out a threat to nullify a 60-year-old armistice between it and South Korea, leading the U.S. to begin staging practice military drills in case tensions became further inflamed.

Rodman is mostly known for his basketball prowess, colorful hair and tattoos — not so much for his record as an international policy analyst. But if you ask him, the North Korea situation is all just a big misunderstanding. He told KXJB that he believes Kim Jong Un doesn’t want to start a war, he just wants a call from President Obama to talk things over.

“I don’t condone what he does, but he’s my friend,” Rodman says. You know you’re a good friend when you won’t let threats of your home country’s nuclear destruction get in the way of budding bromance. We can only hope that Rodman and the future Pope share similar interests.

MORE: 5 Things We Hope Dennis Rodman Learned About North Korea

5 comments
straydog
straydog

This guy is a joke. I didn't like him when he first came out as a player, and I still don't like him now. His entire life is one gaudy grab for attention--he wants all eyes on him and he doesn't care how tacky he has to go to get it.

That a dictator who tortures and starves his people is someone he considers a 'friend' tells you just what kind of person this man is. How can you possibly be friends with someone who KNOWINGLY and WILLINGLY causes death and destruction to innocent people? 

I'm still left wondering how this man was able to travel to a country that has all but declared war on the US and 'party' with the leader who's issued those orders. 

Clearly, Rodman has no loyalty to his own country and appears to be justifying N. Korea's inexcusable actions. Time to do what attention-grabbers like him hate the most----ignore him.

raidx259
raidx259

So what does a 'has been' do to get back to the public spotlight? Of course, go visit every evil, US hating dictator in the world!! Why didn't we think of that before. Maybe he could have talked Osama from bringing down the WTC over dinner.

baronhas
baronhas

Hobnobbing with communist dictators! Come on Rodman!