Former US basketball superstar Dennis Rodman and members of the Harlem Globetrotters arrived in North Korea on Tuesday in a so-called “basketball diplomacy” mission.
The outrageously dressed 51-year-old Hall of Famer, along with several members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, landed in the isolated state on a controversial trip organized by the New York media company VICE that will be part of a documentary, according to AFP.
Rodman said he was “looking forward to sitting down” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who is reportedly an avid NBA fan.
The unlikely cultural exchange comes at a time after tensions flared up following the North’s third nuclear test. But VICE defended the trip and cited basketball as a medium for dialogue with the virtually isolated nation.
“Finding common ground on the basketball court is a beautiful thing. These channels of cultural communication might appear untraditional, and perhaps they are, but we think it’s important just to keep the lines open,” VICE founder Shane Smith said in a statement.
During the week-long visit, the group also plan to hold a series of basketball camps for North Korean children, and “community-based games to encourage openness and better relations with the outside world,” AFP reports.
Rodman’s visit follows Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s trip to the reclusive state last month where he urged the North to embrace Internet freedom.