Why is Dennis Rodman in North Korea?

Ryu Spaeth
The WeekFebruary 26, 2013
Dennis Rodman arrives in Pyongyang, North Korea, for a round of "basketball diplomacy."

"I come in peace," says the five-time NBA champ

In the latest installment of the bizarro soap opera that is North Korea, Dennis Rodman, the flamboyant former NBA star, arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a so-called round of "basketball diplomacy." (Watch a video of his arrival below.) Rodman earlier today tweeted, "Looking forward to sitting down with Kim Jong Un. I love the people of North Korea."

He added, "I come in peace."

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While it remains to be seen whether the leader of the Hermit Kingdom will have a tete-a-tete with The Worm, it's been reported that Kim is a fan of the 1990s-era Chicago Bulls, with whom Rodman won three NBA championships. And coming just weeks after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, it appears the country is opting for a little soft power as the international community weighs a response. Kim has presided over something of a cultural flowering since taking the reins of state in late 2011, including a much-publicized concert that featured Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.

Rodman is traveling with members of the Harlem Globetrotters, part of a Vice Media production that will air on HBO in April, according to Vice founder Shane Smith. Rodman and Co. will reportedly organize a basketball camp for kids, play pickup ball with locals, and compete against North Korea's elite athletes. "It's my first time," Rodman told reporters in Pyongyang, "I think it's most of these guys' first time here, so hopefully everything's going to be OK, and hoping the kids have a good time for the game."

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While the U.S. State Department objected to a recent visit to North Korea by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Rodman's visit has apparently not ruffled any feathers.

Rodman has, however, already committed one diplomatic snafu, tweeting:

Maybe I'll run into the Gangnam Style dude while I'm here @ psy_oppa #WORMinNorthKorea

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— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) February 26, 2013

Psy, the Gangnam Style dude, would be from South Korea, which is technically still at war with the North. Nice try, Worm.

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