Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is heading to North Korea with a film crew from Vice media to shoot footage for an HBO show that will air in early April. Accompanying Rodman to the communist country are three members of the Harlem Globetrotters.
The visit comes only two weeks after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test. The test violated UN sanctions against atomic and missile activity. Washington, Tokyo, Seoul and others consider the nuclear test be a provocative act that has the potential to threaten regional security.
The Americans are hoping to engage in “basketball diplomacy” and will run a sports camp for children. The Guardian reports they will also compete with local people as well as stage an exhibition game against some of North Korea’s best athletes. It is hoped that Kim Jong-un will be in attendance.
“At a time when tensions between the two countries are running high, it's important to keep lines of cultural communication open, no matter how non-traditional those channels may be,” said Vice founder Shane Smith. He is hosting the TV series. “It's important to show North Koreans that America is not their enemy, and playing a game we both love is a step in the right direction.”
Rodman, with his nose rings, tattoos and crazy hair styles, may seem like an odd choice to serve as an ambassador of anything, but basketball is extremely popular in North Korea so he could be successful. He also might not be.
After being shown a photo of a snarling Rodman, one North Korean said: “He looks like a monster!”
Since taking over for his father Kim Jong-il in December of 2011, Kim Jong-un has made promoting sports one of his priorities. This visit would seem to fit in with that agenda.
Source: (The Guardian)