Dennis Rodman, retired NBA player and full-time media provocateur, told North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un that “you have a friend for life” in the Hall of Famer. The remarks came on the third day of Rodman’s trip to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, where he is participating in the filming of an episode for a new weekly HBO series.
USA Today reports that the unlikely pair were watching a televised basketball exhibition when Dennis Rodman extended his offer of friendship to the 30-year-old leader. The exhibition featured members of the Harlem Globetrotters, along with a member of Vice’s crew, playing alongside North Koreans. Rodman and Jong-un sat at the front seat, surrounded by North Korean spectators. Rodman wore a USA Basketball cap and sipped from a Coca-Cola as he watched the game. The match ended in a tie of 110-110.
As previously reported on The Inquisitr, the crew shooting the “bizarre publicity stunt” are members of Vice Media, who have previously visited North Korea as part of their Vice Guide to Travel film series.
”They bonded during the game,” Vice founder Shane Smith told FOX Sports. ”They were both enjoying the crazy shots, and the Harlem Globetrotters were putting on quite a show.”
Rodman is the biggest American celebrity to visit North Korea in recent years, following Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s visit earlier this year, where he lobbied for the country to give its citizens internet access. With the aid of refugees’ recounts, Google has worked in recent months to expand the information is has on North Korea for Google Maps and Google Earth.
Dennis Rodman’s celebrity status (and Kim Jong-un’s admitted love of the NBA) almost certainly made their admittance into the notoriously-secluded country easer than usual for Americans. In order to gain access to North Korea for the original Vice Guide to Travel film, Vice founder Shane Smith revealed that he and his crew had to pose as drunk tourists at the North Korean consulate.
“We got drunk and jumped up onstage and sang songs with the girls,” Smith said. “The next day we got our visas. A lot of people we had gone with didn’t get theirs.
Following the basketball exhibition, Dennis Rodman and the crew were treated to a dinner and drinks at Jong-un’s palace, with Smith remarking that the Supreme Leader “got the [Vice crew] wasted.”
News of the light-hearted encounter stands in sharp contrast to other recent developments. The company recently performed several nuclear tests, disregarding a U.N. ban on the country developing missile or nuclear technology. North Korea disclosed to neighboring China that more tests could soon be underway. These developments prompted South Korea to call a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to strongly condemn the tests.
Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un are now friends. Here’s photographic proof | ti.me/ZMonDQ
— TIME.com (@TIME) February 28, 2013
Perhaps the common bond that Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un found through basketball could signal the beginning of thawed relations between North Korea and the rest of the world, something we can all root for. If you were sitting between the two at the exhibition, what would you make small-talk about?