A wrestler-turned-lawmaker will visit North Korea next week as the country became the center of attention over ex-basketball player Dennis Rodman’s recent trip. Antonio Inoki frequently visits the communist nation and he actually met during his last visit Jang Song-Thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un who was executed last month.
A known opposition member of the upper house, Inoki, who is also head of a non-profit organization, which aims to establish sport-based exchanges, opened an office in Pyongyang last month. His secretary, who confirmed the visit said, “we don’t know until we arrive there who the senator will meet with – that was always the case in his past visits to North Korea.” He also noted that talks with North Korean senior officials will mostly be “diplomacy through sports, and the possibility of other members of the Japanese Parliament to visit the nation.”
The visit comes at a time when media has been showing a video of ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman’s making a public spectacle of his visit, singing “Happy Birthday” to Kim, whom he calls a “friend for life.” The video surfaced after Rodman incited condemnation from the US on his insinuations in a rant on CNN that imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bee deserved what happened to him. Inoki’s visit will probably not garner huge attention, unlike Rodman’s, and does not need approval from parliament because it is currently in recess. His previous visit caused him to be suspended for a month from the legislature for failing to get permission to visit the hermit state while the house was in session.