Former NBA star Dennis Rodman checks in at a check in counter at the departure hall of Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on his way to North Korea; Rodman, third right, arrives at Pyongyang airport, North Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.
Rodman said he plans to hang out with authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, have a good time and maybe bridge some cultural gaps — but not be a diplomat.
Rodman was greeted at Pyongyang’s airport by Son Kwang Ho, vice-chairman of North Korea’s Olympic Committee, just days after Pyongyang rejected a visit by a U.S. envoy who had hoped to bring home Kenneth Bae, an American missionary jailed there. The North abruptly called off the official visit because it said the U.S. had ruined the atmosphere for talks by holding a drill over South Korea with nuclear-capable B-52 bombers.
Rodman said the purpose of his visit was to display his friendship for Kim and North Korea and to “show people around the world that we as Americans can actually get along with North Korea.” (Photos: Andy Wong/The Associated Press, Jon Chol Jin/The Associated Press)
Dennis Rodman is in North Korea. Dennis. Rodman. Is. In. North. Korea.
Why? Take it away AP:
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills Tuesday and flamboyant style — tattoos, nose studs and all — to a country with possibly the world’s strictest dress code: North Korea.
Landing in Pyongyang with VICE television, the American athlete and showman known as “The Worm” became an unlikely ambassador for sports diplomacy at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
Rodman and VICE said the Americans hope to engage in a little “basketball diplomacy” by running a basketball camp for children and playing with North Korea’s top basketball stars — and, they hope, drawing leader Kim Jong Un to a game. Kim is said to be a huge basketball fan.
“Is sending the Harlem Globetrotters and Dennis Rodman to the DPRK strange? In a word, yes,” said Shane Smith, the VICE founder who is host of the upcoming series, referring to North Korea by the initials of its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “But finding common ground on the basketball court is a beautiful thing. (Photo: Kim Kwang Hyon/The Associated Press)
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