Here's an idea: It's time to stop calling North Korea the "hermit kingdom." The reason? It craves media attention and always seems to have some scheme to get it — even if Washington is transfixed once again with the latest Russia-related testimony of the day.
Case in point: It seems clear that North Korea timed the release of student tourist-turned-hostage Otto Warmbier — who has contracted botulism and has been in a coma for over a year — to the arrival of D-list celebrity Dennis "best friend of Kim Jong Un" Rodman.
And no, the former "bad boy of basketball" did not turn diplomat or have some super-secret message from President Trump. Dennis Rodman is many things — a five-time NBA champion, a reality show all-star, and now a five-time traveler to the so-called Democratic People's Republic of Korea — but he is no ambassador. He's just a useful idiot who likely needs an injection of cash and a sponsor — in this case none other than Potcoin! — who is willing to go along for the ride.
But we should not delude ourselves. North Korea deserves our attention for countless reasons — and we don't need Dennis Rodman to remind us of it. In fact, Rodman should be ashamed of himself for trying to gain any fame or possible financial compensation in such a way. He is doing nothing more than attempting to help legitimize what is clearly unlegitimizable — a North Korean regime that is the worst human rights abuser today.
Indeed, Pyongyang's crimes are an open book for the world to see and can't be scrubbed away by a slam dunk. For example, Kim Jong Un operates what can charitably be called a mafia-style state, doing anything, killing anyone, and threatening even the most powerful nation on the planet with nuclear annihilation.
Kim treats his own people as nothing more than slaves, to be used and abused as he sees fit. North Korea operates a prison camp system that seems right off the pages of history akin to the days of Adolf Hitler.
Torture in these camps is more hellish than you can possible imagine. One favorite method is something called "clock torture." The prisoner is forced to stand in front of their fellow prisoners and recreate the motions of an analog clock moving throughout the day. And of course, your peers must watch as you struggle and slowly become dehydrated.
Pregnancy in the camps is strictly forbidden — well, unless your captors force you into sexual relations to breed new prisoners. And if you do become pregnant without the consent of the guards, they will make sure your child dies the most gruesome of deaths. Abortions are standard practice — and in ways that are beyond horrific, such as cutting a baby out of the mother's womb and then executing her. Sometimes the baby can be born, only so the mother is forced to drown it minutes later.
Life in North Korea outside of the camps is not much better. Most of the population does not have enough food to eat. The country is dependent on food rations. There is very little possibility of a better future — unless you defect.
Then there is the danger that Kim could spread the North Korea nightmare across the world. He starves his own people for a very simple reason: to make sure he has the resources to build nuclear weapons that could someday hit the United States. As I have said in these pages before, all it would take is a faulty missile test to spark a Second Korean War that could claim millions of lives — in just minutes.
So could there be any usefulness to Dennis Rodman going to such a terrible place? Absolutely, if you get a little creative and take away the motive for all this nonsense.
You see, a regime like North Korea wants attention — but the right attention. They love talk of how they are simply misunderstood. They want someone like Rodman, who said back in 2014 that "it's not that bad" or even taking it so far to dress like Dictator Kim, to make them appear benign.
So how can America fight this kind of propaganda? It's simple: The Trump administration should announce that it wants to stop Americans from traveling to North Korea until its cleaned up its act — and that Dennis Rodman will be the last American to travel there for the foreseeable future.
President Trump should send a bill to Congress that strictly forbids any American from traveling to North Korea for any reason. While this would have consequences for humanitarian aid projects being conducted in the country, Americans should not run the risk of being made pawns of this regime. Washington should no longer allow North Korea to use Dennis Rodman as their propaganda tool, or any other American, for that matter.
Maybe if Washington can't agree on health-care legislation or tax reform they could all get behind The Rodman Act.