When it comes to controversy, there’s no time out for Dennis Rodman in North Korea.
Fresh off a combative CNN interview in which he loudly defended his latest “basketball diplomacy” mission to the brutal and secretive regime, he has courted further disapprobation by publicly leading a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, who may or may not have turned 31 on Wednesday.
Rodman’s performance came ahead of a friendly game between a squad of ex-NBA players and a North Korean team.
The Associated Press reports:
“Rodman dedicated the game to his ‘best friend’ Kim, who along with his wife and other senior officials and their wives watched from a special seating area. The capacity crowd of about 14,000 at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium clapped loudly as Rodman sang a verse from the birthday song.”
The clapping seemed genuinely enthusiastic, as well it should have after the poor example set by Kim’s late uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was executed on the leader’s order last month. Among the accusations against Jang: clapping “half-heartedly” when his powerful nephew was elected vice chairman of the country’s central military commission.