Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday as part of a sports diplomacy initiative with VICE media. Rodman and members of the Harlem Globetrotters will be running a basketball camp for children, which will be filmed for a documentary airing on HBO in April as part of a larger series.
While the foreign relations between the United States and North Korea are as strained as ever, the hope is that, through the love of basketball, Rodman and company can help ease some of the tension and provide a middle ground that that the two groups can enjoy together. As long as he doesn't kick any North Korean cameramen or do anything wild and outrageous to offend their grand dictator, that is.
Here is VICE media’s statement about this project:
"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 Shane Smith, the VICE founder who is host of the upcoming 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 is an interesting choice for this project. He is known for his off-court antics, short marriages, and alcohol abuse. He has written four books, one of which he promoted by sitting in a coffin (It was called I Should be Dead by Now). Rodman has been on Celebrity Apprentice and Celebrity Rehab. When you think “improving foreign relations so North Korea doesn’t build a nuclear bomb to launch at us” Rodman would not necessarily be the first person that came to mind.
At the same time, this might be a brilliant move on VICE's part – if an outspoken athlete with tattoos and piercings (which are not exactly North Korea's song and dance) can fly in and charm everyone, maybe there is hope that we can mend the fences elsewhere, so to speak. What better way to begin doing so than by bringing Rodman, the opposite of conservative, to try and relate to the uber conservative North Korean culture.
Sure, this won't solve all of our foreign relation issues, but if we get a step closer through Rodman and basketball, then we'll all learn something. And hey – at least we're not sending Bieber.