Dennis Rodman has brought two familiar books with him on his latest trip to North Korea: Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal and a Where’s Waldo picture book.
Rodman, a former basketball superstar who played on the storied 1990s Chicago Bulls championship team, brought the books as a small token of his appreciation for North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, whom he calls a friend for life.
It’s likely that the former NBA star brought Where’s Waldo for Mr Kim’s daughter, whom he held during a previous visit. He also brought along a jigsaw puzzle that seems unlikely meant for Mr Kim himself.
The inclusion of The Art of the Deal is of note because it was written by Mr Trump himself and held up by him frequently as documentation of his business savvy. The book extols business approaches like using leverage and not showing desperation or eagerness. It also suggests exaggeration is a great negotiation tool — a tactic that both the President and Mr Kim seem to be fairly comfortable with.
The US State Department has repeatedly denied that Rodman was asked to go to North Korea to represent American interests in any way. Instead, they say, he is there on a personal trip.
The United States doesn’t have a formal diplomatic relationship with North Korea, and instead needs to rely on foreign allies as intermediaries whenever conversations with the country are necessarily. The Swedish embassy in Pyongyang is generally the intermediary that presents US interests to the government there.
American relations with North Korea have been fraught since the Korean War, when the US bored and napalmed large portions of the country and left 20 percent of the population dead. More recently, the relationship has been largely defined by repeated missile and weapons tests conducted by North Korea, and by threats from the country aimed at the US.