Because Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea (DPRK) to practice “basketball diplomacy” wasn’t weird enough, VICE has released a photo that seems to suggest Rodman smuggled a Coca-Cola into the country — and then boldly sipped from the can while attending a game with leader Kim Jong Un. Jason Mojica snapped the picture, currently posted on the VICE web site.
Chris Green for the Daily NK said that unnamed witnesses reported Thursday that Rodman and the North Korean leader watched a game that included 12 members of the DPRK’s national team and four Harlem Globetrotters. The score? A very tactful 110-110 draw.
That report had no photo and no mention of the suspicious red-and-white can of Coke.
According to ABC news reporters Kirit Radia, Margaret Aro, and Martha Raddatz, North Korea is one of two nations in the world that ban the importation of Coca-Cola. (Cuba is the other.) A Coca-Cola spokesman was not amused, telling ABC:
“Coca-Cola does not currently do business in North Korea. Any products sold in the market have been purchased by third parties not authorized by The Coca-Cola Company.”
However, ABC reporters said that they too have been served Cokes in the capital city of Pyongyang. In other words, Dennis Rodman wouldn’t have been forced to sneak in his own can of Coke in his luggage and hope his new best bud Kim Jong Un was too polite to notice. He could have very well ordered the beverage there.
In fact, I found a You Tube video dating back to 2011 that shows a party of tourists being served a tall, skinny can labeled Coca-Cola in what is allegedly a North Korean restaurant. You Tuber “Nilov71” noted that they asked for “Italian Coke” to get around the ban:
In a Huffington Post report on Dennis Rodman’s departure from the country, Matthew Pennington and Brian Mahoney quoted Rodman gushing over the infamous dictator like a starstruck fan:
“He’s proud, his country likes him – not like him, love him, love him. Guess what, I love him. The guy’s really awesome.”
OK, if you say so, Dennis.
Does anyone really think Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un are now best friends forever? I think it was a publicity stunt gone horribly wrong. But I also have a backup theory.
Dennis Rodman figured he’d better say something nice about the North Korean leader if he didn’t want to be arrested for that contraband can of Coke. What do you think?