Dennis Rodman Hangs Out With North Korean Dictator
Just yesterday I told you that the first social media messages ever sent directly from North Korea were broadcast recently, due to reforms in their 3G network. And those abilities were immediately used to document one of the strangest visitors in the country in modern memory: flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman.
Rodman inexplicably visited the Hermit Kingdom, along with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters, and a documentary crew from VICE magazine.
Let me repeat that: The cross-dressing ex-husband of Carmen Electra, an iconic exhibition basketball team, and reporters from a magazine best known for photos of people in Williamsburg, all walk into Pyongyang.
According to Vice, the Globetrotters and VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy played a basketball game against North Korea’s Dream Team, as Rodman watched with current leader Kim Jong-Un. This was followed by a reception at the Supreme Leader’s home, where Kim reportedly got the crew “wasted.”
Little is known about the 29-year-old Kim. But fellow students who believe he attended a middle school in Switzerland under a different name do remember one thing about their secretive North Korean classmate: he loved basketball, and was fascinated by the NBA.
So while the DPRK is still plagued by rumors of horrible human rights abuses, famine, and even cannibalism, it’s leader rubbed elbows with one of his childhood heroes. Rodman reportedly told Kim, “You have a friend for life.”
North Korea has shown signs of what could cautiously be called warming relations with the west since Kim assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2010. Kim Jong-un has used less bombastic rhetoric, and oversaw the aforementioned changes to internet and mobile device policy for foreigners; however, he did also preside over recent nuclear tests.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt also recently made a controversial trip to North Korea, over the objections of the US State Department. But even Schmidt did not meet with Kim; and his trip was balanced by healthy amounts of criticism of the totalitarian state. Just days later, Google Earth released more detailed maps of the country, featuring suspected prison camps.
What do you think of Rodman’s trip to North Korea?
[via ThinkProgress; image via VICE]