At a time when nuclear tensions are running high between Washington and Pyongyang, Dennis Rodman has become the most recent American celebrity to land in North Korea.
“It’s true, I’m in North Korea,” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. local time, proving that N. Korea has indeed launched mobile phone service for foreigners. “Looking forward to sitting down with Kim Jung Un. I love the people of North Korea. #WORMinNorthKorea.”
Within minutes the tattooed and pierced one followed up with, “They love basketball here. Honored to represent The United States of America. #WORMinNorthKorea.”
A few minutes later, Rodman seemed to be responding to his perception of the questions likely to be provoked by his visit.
“I’m not a politician. Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story. #WORMinNorthKorea.”
The trip is apparently under the auspices of VICE which has sponsored past trips to N. Korea. This one is described as involving running a basketball camp for North Korean children and engaging in community-based games. Rodman, 51, is accompanied on the trip by three members of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Rodman’s erratic behavior and odd markings often overshadow his status as a 2011 inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He enjoyed a long, successful NBA career playing for the Pistons, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks between 1986 and 2000. In 2003 he resumed his professional career in the now-defunct ABA, then played in Finland and the UK.
N. Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un, believed to be 29, is known to have been a basketball enthusiast and an NBA fan since his days in a Swiss boarding school. While there he had pictures taken with players from the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. From that perspective Rodman’s trip makes sense as a way to keep Kim engaged with the outside world in some positive way.