America’s “new normal” diplomacy under Trump is a page turner… of Trump’s own book.
While Dennis Rodman may not have had a role in this week’s release of Otto Warmbier, the American university student who had been imprisoned for 15 years, the NBA Hall of Famer appears to have delivered a symbolic message to North Korea’s leader: Rodman gifted Kim Jong Un with a copy of Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” on Thursday, according to the AP.
Along with the Trump book, other gifts he presented for Kim Jong Un include a copy of “Where’s Waldo? The Totally Essential Travel Collection,” a mermaid puzzle, two sets of soap and two autographed jerseys.
While the book wasn’t signed by Trump, Rodman’s boss for two seasons of the “Celebrity Apprentice”, the WaPo notes that the gift may be “a cheeky gesture on Rodman’s part.” Indeed, Rodman could be the perfect intermediary in an attempt to thaw relations between the US and North Korea due to his friendship with not only Trump but also Kim, whom he personally met and serenaded by singing “Happy Birthday” from a basketball court.
The retired basketball star, who arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday, saying that he was “trying to open the door” between the US and North Korea, met for a formal gift-giving ceremony with Sports Minister Kim Il-guk
Aside from endearing the Great Leader, Rodman has said his latest visit to North Korea is just to meet old friends and have a good time. He and his small entourage have been spending time hanging out with young North Korean basketball players and visiting local sights. He watched a North Korean men’s basketball team and met the country’s Sports Minister.
Rodman also met North Korean Olympic athletes, including judo gold medalist An Kum Ae. “All of you guys should be proud of yourselves, because, you know, a lot of people don’t give you guys credit, because this is such a small country, and not many people from North Korea can compete around the world,” Rodman said. He continued: “But for you guys to come back here in your country, with a medal, that says a lot about North Korea, because people don’t really take North Korea so seriously about sports or anything like that.”
Meanwhile, the sports minister made clear Rodman is viewed quite fondly in Pyongyang.
“In the past, our respected supreme leader met you several times and he used his precious time to watch the basketball match with the players you brought here. In the past he met you, so our people all know you well,” Kim Il Guk told Rodman. “And also we feel that you are an old friend.”