Playing games

A TYRANT HAS no friends. Sad but true. And what’s sadder, it will apparently take former American basketball star Dennis Rodman more than three trips to North Korea to realise that.

Rodman’s basketball diplomacy, that expected to create a big bang by engineering a little global thaw for isolated North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as well as a little bonanza for Rodman himself, seems to be going nowhere for now, literally. The trip sponsor, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, has finally bowed to public opinion, dropping its sponsorship of Rodman’s Pyongyang junkets as well as the match that was to be held early next month as a birthday bash for the “Dear Leader”. But Rodman, who rushes into a land where angels fear to tread, still retains his illusions about the third-generation dictator, despite the recent purges in North Korea that saw at least eight people executed, including Kim’s uncle, who was once the numero dos. It is a remarkable display of optimism by the American, especially given the fact that his “buddy” Kim this time did not find any time to give Rodman even the time of day, let alone hug him and take him on a tour of his closely guarded official residence, as he had been wont to do in the past.

But perhaps Pyongyang is not isolated as it’s made out to be. Perhaps its officials are more clued into world affairs than Rodman and are apprised of the fact that Kim’s buddy took part in a commercial that makes fun of Kim. After such knowledge, as T.S. Eliot would have said, what forgiveness! Besides learning that dictators do not make all-weather friends, perhaps Rodman should also learn that it’s not good PR to bite the hand that has been feeding him.

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