In the latest twist in the Dennis Rodman-North Korea saga, the tattooed former NBA bad boy has commented on the family-man side of Kim Jong-Un, leader of the impoverished Hermit Kingdom. While information on Kim’s daughter was kept hush-hush until now, Rodman has broken the silence and told the world her name: Ju-Ae. According to Reuters, the Supreme Commander’s wife Ri Sol-Ju appeared to be pregnant in photos released last year by North Korea’s state news agency.
In a scene that is surreal to contemplate, Rodman (aka: The Worm) apparently cradled Kim’s baby daughter in his arms and told The Guardian, “I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms Ri (Kim's wife) as well. He's a good dad and has a beautiful family.”
While Korean tradition would likely keep Ju-Ae from filling her dad’s shoes, she could very well end up taking on a key political role when she grows up. A number of Kim’s female relatives, such as his aunt, have done the same.
Much of Kim’s life is shrouded in mystery. Even his age is a matter of dispute, with reports suggesting he is between 29 and 31. It was only revealed that he was married last July when he began to turn up to public events alongside his wife Ri Sol. While Ju-Ae’s birthdate is unknown, Ri apparently chatted incessantly of her daughter in Rodman’s presence during his first trip to Pyongyang.
Yesterday, Kim attended celebrations to mark North Korea’s 65th birthday in Kim Il Sung Square. As troops streamed by, he stood atop a viewing area and looked down over the impoverished masses, making no statement on the reclusive nation’s goals or direction. On Sunday, meanwhile, Washington and Seoul agreed on a plan for deterring any future nuclear threats that may emerge from Pyongyang, though details are yet to be unveiled.
Good dad he may be, but if reports are to be believed Kim is not someone you would want as an ex-boyfriend. In August, Kim’s ex-girlfriend Hyon Song-wol was reportedly machine-gunned by an execution squad with a dozen other performers who were former members of the Unhasu Orchestra, ostensibly for filming sexual acts of themselves and selling the videos. Their families were reportedly forced to watch. This news came amid other reports on the deteriorating condition of U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae, who is serving 15 years’ hard labor for “hostile acts” to the North Korean state. Although grim news like this continues to emerge from the destitute country, Rodman paints a relatively rosy picture.
“The Marshal Kim and I had a relaxing time by the sea with his family," Rodman said. “We shared many meals and drinks where we discussed our plans to play a historic friendship basketball game between North Korea and the U.S. as well as ways to develop their basketball team.”
He continued: “Kim is a great guy, he loves basketball, and he’s interested in building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges.” Wearing the shirt of a vodka company and a Paddy Power hat – the betting company that funded his latest trip – he waved off criticism by those suggesting it was all being done for money.
“People think this is a gimmick. I would love to make this a gimmick … but it's not about the money.”