At the end of last month, Dennis Rodman, the eclectic former basketball star, hung out with Kim Jong-un, the leader of the rogue North Korean state. "I love him," Rodman would say of his new friend. "The guy is awesome. He was so honest."
Days after returning, on George Stephanopoulos's ABC show, Rodman delivered a message to President Barack Obama. "One thing he asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing," said Rodman. "He wants Obama to do one thing, call him."
"He wants a call from President Obama?," the TV host asked.
"That's right. He told me that. He said, if you can, Dennis, I don't want to do war. I don't want to do war. He said that to me," Rodman recounted. Later suggesting that the two leaders have a love of basketball in common. "Guess what, the one thing I said to him, I said, we talked about -- if you see the clips or whatever, he loves basketball. And I said, Obama loves basketball, let's start there, all right? Start there. If you see the quotes in the papers, he says that. He says that about sports. Both of you guys love basketball so much."
But since Rodman returned, things have escalated in the region--very quickly. Daily threats accompany daily photo-ops of the leader looking tough and in command.
And now, only a month later, Kim Jong-un is threatening to bomb America. "Hawaii, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas," the British Telegraph notes, appear on "a chart marked 'US mainland strike plan' and missile trajectories" in photos released by the North Koreans showing their dear leader preparing for an attack.
Kim Jong-un "finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets, ordering them to be on standby to fire so that they may strike any time the US mainland, its military bases in the operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea," according to the North Korean state-run organ.
Kim Jong-un took over as leader of North Korea in December 2011, and as the first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea in April 2012. He seems to have spent a year figuring things out, learning how to run a state.
Since Rodman visited, there has been a noticeable shift in North Korea: The leader has become very belligerent.