Former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman has visited North Korea before, after which he claimed he helped secure the release of American detainees. Yet his latest trip, which was apparently signed off on by Donald Trump, has nothing to do with the sudden release of imprisoned college student Otto Warmbier and everything to do with gifting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a copy of The Art of the Deal, among other things.
In video obtained and released by the Associated Press, Rodman presents the Sports Minister Kim Il Guk with Art of the Deal, a Where’s Waldo? book, several jerseys and a handful of other items. After signing the jerseys, the footage cuts to shots of Rodman watching and talking to the national women’s basketball team. “All of you should be proud of yourselves,” Rodman says. “A lot of people really don’t give you guys credit because it’s such a small country, and not too many people from the north can compete around the world.” As the Washington Post notes, however, Rodman wasn’t able to give the gifts to Kim Jong Un in person.
What’s more, CNN reports that despite a previous story suggesting the president had asked Rodman personally to treat his North Korean trip as a diplomatic one, U.S. national security spokesperson Michael Anton said Rodman was not acting as an official representative. He also denied reports indicating Trump had spoken with the former basketball player prior to making his trip, which was sponsored by the marijuana-centric cryptocurrency PotCoin. Interestingly enough, PotCoin’s previously respectable value did a disastrous dive-bomb the day after Rodman landed in North Korea wearing one of their shirts.