This year’s visits by former NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea in February and September were “disastrous” for Kim Jong Un, says B.R Myers, associate professor of international studies at Dongseo University.
Speaking to NK News in an extended podcast interview, Myers argues that the decision to allow former NBA star Dennis Rodman to visit North Korea represented a serious blunder on the part of Kim Jong Un.
Myers said that errors such as the Rodman trip “strengthen my conviction that he really is in charge, that he really is pulling the strings”.
“If someone else were pulling the strings for him, they would not have let him do something so stupid, and let him do it twice,” Myers said.
“If you want to look to your own people as if you have foreign admirers, you don’t invite some has-been basketball player who’s going to wear a hat and sunglasses in your presence,” Myers said, adding that “you don’t waste that photo-op on Dennis Rodman because it’s obvious the person most interested in meeting Dennis Rodman is Kim Jong Un himself”.
Myers argues that this approach is part of a wider tendency of propaganda under Kim Jong Un, which “doesn’t sit well with the whole military first image”.
“A really vital part of the Kim Jong Il myth” was “that he was so busy defending the country that he really had no time for himself,” Myers said.
In the interview Myers also touches upon North Korea’s plans for reunification, the arrest of South Korea’s Pro-North Korea lawmaker Li Seok-Gi, the flying of South Korea’s flag in North Korea, and the inter-Korean spike in tensions that occurred in Spring.
B.R Myers is well known for his unique approach to North Korean studies – his 2010 book ”The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why it Matters” argued that the guiding ideology of the DPRK was not, in fact, communism or Marxism-Leninism, but a radical ethnic nationalism originating from the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910-1945.