Skip to main content

Visit Seoul next time, Mr. Rodman (Korea Times, by Casey Lartigue, Jr.)



There’s an old joke that after being in China for a week you believe you can write a book. After being there a month, perhaps you can write a magazine article. After a year in China, you put your head down and mutter to yourself. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

I would hope the same kind of thing is happening to former NBA star Dennis Rodman after he made international headlines with his visit to North Korea (and made himself the butt of jokes with his ignorance about the country).

Others are mocking Dennis Rodman, but I hope he will come to Seoul before his next visit to North Korea. I would invite him to visit Mulmangcho, a school for North Korean refugee children (I’m the International Adviser to the school). We have 15 orphans and disadvantaged children who were rescued from China after their families or others helped them escape from North Korea. Some of them suffer from mental or physical problems after being beaten and starved in North Korea.

I would introduce Rodman to Prof. Park Sun-young, the founder of Mulmangcho who was a former member of the National Assembly. Rodman probably didn’t hear about it, but she staged an 11-day hunger strike last year when North Koreans captured in China were threatened with deportation. Rodman’s “friend for life,” Kim Jong-un, probably had them tortured or executed. Park knows many people who could give Rodman a fuller picture of North Korea’s gulags.

After that, I would take him to meet various poorly funded organizations here that aid North Korean escapees. Rodman could put his basketball skills to good use by organizing clinics or exhibition games here to raise money.

After he hears from scholars, activists and others aiding North Koreans, I would then introduce him to North Koreans who successfully escaped.

These are people who fled only with the clothes on their backs, under the threat of death. They lived their entire lives oppressed by the crime family that has ruled North Korea since the 1940s. North Koreans see family members publicly executed or tortured, they are punished for “wrong-thinking”, tortured for minor crimes, or executed for trying to escape.

If they manage to escape to China, they are illegal aliens targeted by modern-day slave-catchers who threaten to report them to police (resulting in deportation, and often torture or execution). They still aren’t completely safe in South Korea — North Korean refugees have been assassinated by North Korean spies.

Rodman called Kim Jung-un his friend. Dictators don’t need friends. It is people who are trying to escape to freedom who need friends, not criminals who issue “shoot-to-kill” orders against those people.

Shortly after former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il died in December 2011, Reason magazine columnist Ira Stoll reminded us not to forget the dead dictator’s victims. I would suggest that Rodman remember his new friend’s victims.

Rodman spent a few days in North Korea, so he felt courageous enough to talk with his usual swagger about it. I would suggest he hear the other side of the story about North Korea by coming to South Korea.

After he has learned more about North Korea, he might put his head down and mutter to himself about being fooled by Kim Jung-un.

* * *

The writer is the international adviser to the Mulmangcho School for North Korean refugees, in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province. He can be reached at cjl@post.harvard.edu.

Korea Times link
linked by Booker Rising

Update: I got a comment from Namsu who wrote: "Skillful use of the opening made by Dennis Rodman could grow into a significant diplomatic opportunity for the American Black Community."

I seriously doubt it, but anyway, here's an article from NK News: "The Black Panther’s Secret North Korean Fetish."

http://www.nknews.org/2012/12/the-black-panther-north-korean-juche-fetish/

Popular posts from this blog

2014-02-14 Yeon-Mi Park`s debut

Yeonmi Park, February 14, 2014, making her debut! Yesterday I was one of the speakers at a special session on North Korean refugees at the Canadian Maple International School. Wow, it was a wonderful time! * Yeon-Mi Park delivered her first major speech in English. She was wonderful! She told her story (35 minute speech without notes), discussed different aspects of North Korea, and then handled questions from students for more than an hour. She did seem to be nervous at the beginning-she took a deep breath just as she started, looked at me, then told her story from her heart. * Returning from the speech, I told Yeonmi that she had star potential. She told me that she didn't believe it, but I told her that the way she handled Q&A and told her story, I would be lucky to have her still returning my phone calls within a year. * The students had many questions. They have been learning about North Korea. They are now reading "Escape from Camp 14" featuring Shin Dong-h

Helping North Koreans 'strike the blow' (Korea Times)

H ave you ever engaged in action not because you were sure it would change the world, but to satisfy your own heart? That, I emailed to an American friend, is why I have joined the effort to help North Koreans who are trying to escape from their homeland. I can’t change the direction of policy in North Korea or China but I can row the boat I am sitting in rather than lamenting that I can’t steer the yachts somewhere else. So I have tried to do what I can: Attending protests in front of the Chinese embassy in Seoul (and I plan to do so when I visit America in April); donating money to the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights ( www.nkhumanrights.or.kr ); educating myself, writing articles and emailing friends; and, as a member of the board of trustees, I recently submitted a resolution to the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association (FDMHA) in Washington, D.C., to try to call attention to the plight of North Koreans. Our organization’s missi

Government causing problems: Caffe Bene

According to the Korea Herald : Caffe Bene, the nation’s largest coffee shop franchise, has started cutting jobs and executive salaries, blaming regulations against expansion of its bakery and restaurant chains. Then a funny thing happened on the way to a seemingly bland story: There was actual talk about the Korean government playing a role in damaging Caffe Bene's business. Not just a throwaway line or a final comment at the end of the article, but actually tying the business's problems to the Korean government's policy. Caffe Bene took over bakery chain Mainz Dom in December despite the National Commission for Corporate Partnership’s advice to reconsider the acquisition as the panel was discussing restricting bakery franchises. The state-funded commission last month designated bakeries and restaurants as “SME-only” businesses, barring franchises to keep from opening too many stores or within 500 meters from small bakeries. Large companies in the dinin

Politician commentators

It is often mockingly said that the people who know how to run the country are driving cabs and cutting hair. I have identified a new problem...the people who are running the country are pontificating like they are cab drivers and barbers. WTOP Radio hosts "Ask the Governor" every Tuesday. This past Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was philosophizing about Michael Vick, the former NFL player now in the slamma for killing dogs. Kaine: "I don't think somebody convicted of charges like this should be back in the NFL." What, Vick should be driving a cab or cutting hair? * * * Perhaps Gov. Kaine would like to assign Michael Vick to a job. After all, if Vick should be barred from playing in the NFL, then would what Kaine have him do? Let's fill-in Kaine's statement with some other occupations: "I don't think somebody convicted of charges like this should... "work as a waiter." "be a construction worker." "work as a tax account

Earth Hour 2013 Man of the Year!!!

In case you missed it, last night was Earth Hour. That's when people around the world turn off their lights for one hour to show concern for the Earth. The idea originated from the World Wildlife Fund. Bouncing off Don Boudreaux, I would like to announce that Kim Jong-Un is the Earth Hour 2013 Man of the Year. Kim Jong-Un, Earth Hour's 2013 Man of the Year I won't read through his resume and accomplishments to make my case, I will point out this satellite photo showing the difference between the two Koreas. North Korea, where every day is "Earth Hour." Not only is the dashing young dictator's regime focused on keeping North Koreans in the dark more than just one hour a year, but he is now leading a government that is threatening to blow up other countries for various reasons. He has ordered his military to strike with "lightening speed"--apparently confusing lightening speed with lightening, and thinking that lightening can bring ligh