Rodman's trips to Pyongyang are being sponsored by Irish bookmaking firm Paddy Power. When it comes to announcing a baby's name to the world, some will have a quiet word with friends and family while others might send a discreet email. But the Kim dynasty in North Korea has never been one for the orthodox.
On Sunday, the name of Kim Jong-un's baby became known almost by accident, courtesy of a certain former US basketball star who keeps popping up in Pyongyang. Dennis Rodman has already described Kim as an "awesome guy". On Sunday, he told the Guardian the leader was also a "good dad" to his baby daughter, whom he named as Ju-ae.
He's a good dad and has a beautiful family. Kim told me, 'I'll see you in December. If the Rodman in Pyongyang story wasn't unusual enough, there is an extra twist - it is being sponsored by an Irish bookmaking firm, which cheerfully admits it has no experience of international diplomacy. Paddy Power used Rodman for a promotional stunt involving bets about the new pope, after which the eponymous son of the founder of the firm went for "pizza and a few glasses of wine" with the ex-NBA star in Rome.
Rodman then explained his "basketball diplomacy" idea. Despite thinking it was "all a bit bonkers", Power decided to get involved. It's an unusual idea to say the least. The company consulted a Korea expert at the International Crisis Group thinktank, which argues that this is not entirely a stunt.
If you have a former president of the United States, that factor might be much greater. But someone like Dennis Rodman can't do that. He can't lift sanctions — he doesn't have that power or authority. It's a very small channel, but it's there. And here's the leader, embracing him. That is an implicit signal — it's OK to be different. We initially referred to Paddy Power as the founder of the betting firm that shares his name, the firm itself was actually founded by his father Topics.