Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Rodman sings happy birthday to North Korean leader

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Dennis Rodman sang “Happy Birthday” to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before leading a squad of former NBA stars in a friendly game Wednesday as part of his “basketball diplomacy” that has been criticized in the United States as naive and laughable.

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.

Rodman said he was honored to be able to play the game in the North Korean capital and called the event “historic.” Some members of the U.S. Congress, the NBA and human rights groups, however, say he has become a public relations tool for North Korea’s government.

The government’s poor human rights record and its threats to use nuclear weapons against rival South Korea and the United States have kept it a pariah state. Kim shocked the world in December by having his uncle, once considered his mentor, executed after being accused of a litany of crimes including corruption, womanizing, drug abuse and attempting to seize power.

Rodman, 52, has refused to address those concerns while continuing to forge a relationship with Kim, whose age has never been officially disclosed. The government did not say how old he turned Wednesday but he is believed to be in his early 30s.

At the start of the game, Rodman sang “Happy Birthday” to Kim, who was seated above in the stands at the stadium, and then bowed deeply as North Korean players clapped.

To keep it friendly, the Americans played against the North Koreans in the first half, but split up and merged teams for the second half.

The North Korean team scored 47 points to 39 for the Americans before the teams were mixed. Rodman played only in the first half and then sat next to Kim during the second half.

“A lot of people have expressed different views about me and your leader, your marshal, and I take that as a compliment,” Rodman told the crowd. “Yes, he is a great leader, he provides for his people here in this country and thank God the people here love the marshal.”

Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim. He has carefully avoided getting involved in overtly political activities, saying that he is not a statesman and instead is seeking only to build cultural connections with the North through basketball that may help improve relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

Rodman has been slammed in particular for not using his influence with Kim to help free Kenneth Bae, an American missionary in poor health who is being confined in the North for “anti-state” crimes. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Rodman implied that Bae was at fault for being held captive.

Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said his family couldn’t believe what Rodman said.

“Here’s somebody who is in a position to do some good for Kenneth and refuses to do so,” Chung told KOMO Radio in Seattle on Wednesday. “And then after the fact, instead, he decides to hurl these unqualified accusations against Kenneth. It’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about. I’m not sure who he’s talking to, where he’s getting his information, but he’s certainly no authority on Kenneth Bae.”

The U.S. State Department distanced itself from Rodman and said it did not want to “dignify” his activities or comments in Pyongyang by commenting on them. But spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department was open to speaking with Rodman on his return.

“We have not reached out to him. We’ve said before, if he wants to reach out to us, we’re happy to hear from him and what he has to say,” she told reporters.

The game is a new milestone in Rodman’s unusual relationship with Kim, who inherited power after the death of his father in late 2011 and rarely meets with foreigners. He remains a mystery to much of the outside world and until recently, his birthday was also not widely known, though it was quietly observed elsewhere around the capital Wednesday.

Along with Rodman, the former NBA players included ex-All Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker. Also on the roster were Craig Hodges, Doug Christie, Charles D. Smith and four streetballers.

Members of the team, who average in their late 40s, said they came because they believed the game would be a good opportunity to create a human connection with the people of the isolated country. But some said they have been concerned by the negative reaction they have seen from the media and critics back home.

“This was a test of faith. We stepped out into the unknown,” said former New York Knicks player Smith, who has played similar games in other countries and has acted as the team’s spokesman to balance Rodman’s famously outspoken character.

Smith said he was gratified to see the North Korean crowd enjoy the game, but he added that he had mixed emotions about the two-hour event.

“Emotionally, I don’t know what to feel,” he told The Associated Press afterward. “I’m indifferent. I’m not totally overjoyed.”

Smith said he and the other players did not join Rodman in singing the birthday song.

“We always tell Dennis that he can’t sing. He is tone deaf,” Smith said. “He did it alone.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

‘Same Time, Next Year’ opens in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Man to stand trial in rural Vacaville killing

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 11 Comments | Gallery

‘We Got Next’ Comedy Tour stops at Dimitri’s

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Puppies to take part in Vallejo dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Afisivalu announces run for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Tonnesen seeks Fairfield City Council seat

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Family matriarch celebrates 100th birthday

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Barbecue brings big crowd, progress to Parkway Gardens

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 18 Comments | Gallery

Assist-A-Grad wraps up interviews

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Napa County bridge to close for work

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Town hall on crime set in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 9 Comments

 
Crash shuts I-80 offramp to Highway 12

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 5 Comments | Gallery

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Ukrainian unity on display with peaceful rallies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Putin’s choice of words shed light on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Who gained, and what, at Ukraine talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Salmon released in California river restoration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
1 dead, 1 injured in California boating accident

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

BART fined $210,000 for worker deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Military shell prompted evacuation of hundreds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Jury convicts husband in Iraqi woman’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California health care sign-ups exceed projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

Dirty creek, old purse solve four-decade mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3 1/2 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Chelsea Clinton expecting first child this fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Holder: Hate crimes ‘an affront to who we are’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Samples collected from oil slick not from plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

S. Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Peru volcano prompts evacuation of 4,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Nigeria: Fate of 115 abducted girls unknown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Confused, chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Opinion

Food brings back fond memories

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
Internationally out of touch

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

 
Watch out for grandson scam

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 20 Comments

Why so much spent to find a plane?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History for April 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My husband tells our sons that they don’t need to listen to me

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B13

 
Horoscopes for April 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B13

.

Entertainment

 
Week in preview April 18-24, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Review: ‘Heaven Is for Real’ heartfelt but dull

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lost radio program featuring Hank Williams found

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
‘Real Housewives’ TV star faces battery charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Ill, hospitalized Miley Cyrus postpones more shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Badminton update: Rodriguez, Armijo head toward post season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
MEL boys roll to easy win over SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Short-handed SCAC girls ‘gut out’ all-star win over MEL

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sharks beat Kings 6-3 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Dodgers get to Bumgarner early for win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Miguel Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Sponsorship woes put Swan Racing future in doubt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Ex-quarterback McNabb spends day in Arizona jail

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Season wrapup: Sacramento Kings’ ‘new era’ off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Clippers-Warriors series billed as must-see TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Kuchar builds on Masters momentum, shares Heritage lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

War of words in Northwestern-athletes’ union fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Shumenov gets big chance in ring against ageless Hopkins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Montreal team sign Chad Johnson to 2-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Seattle 1B Choi banned 50 games for positive test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Dodgers’ Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stanford takes lead at LPGA LOTTE tournament

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Boston Marathon makes room for more runners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Vanden clinches at least share of SCAC boys tennis title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Toyota Camry gets a top-to-bottom makeover

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Walmart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13