Remember when VICE founder Shane Smith took that super creepy tour of North Korea and documented it for the world to see? If you haven’t, set aside an hour and dive in, because it’s a bizarre experience that’s really worth watching (here are are parts two and three). Now, two years later, VICE is headed back to North Korea, and this time they’re bringing some athletic diplomats along for the ride — Dennis Rodman and a trio of Harlem Globetrotters:
The American known as “The Worm” is set to arrive Tuesday in Pyongyang, becoming an unlikely ambassador for sports diplomacy at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
Rodman, three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, a VICE correspondent and a production crew from the company are visiting North Korea to shoot footage for a new TV show set to air on HBO in early April, VICE told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview before the group’s departure from Beijing.
It should be noted that this trip comes on the heels of an underwater nuclear test conducted by the North Koreans — a bold demonstration meant to send “a deliberate warning to Washington”. Now, we assume they mean Washington, D.C. and not Washington State (phew, for me!), but it doesn’t really matter, because we’re pretty sure they couldn’t hit the broad side of an Aleutian Island with one of those rockets, even if they tried. However, the nice thing about sports is that nuclear slap fights get tossed to the side when a goodwill hoops tour is involved:
VICE said the Americans hope to engage in a little “basketball diplomacy” in North Korea by running a basketball camp for children and playing pickup games with locals — and by competing alongside North Korea’s top athletes in a scrimmage they hope will be attended by leader Kim Jong Un.
“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.”
Of course, with The Worm involved, who knows what could go wrong. But we see this ending in one of two ways: 1) we get a sweet documentary that shows how weird North Korea is (again), or 2) Rodman goes full Rodman, gets tossed in a prison camp, and Bill Clinton swoops in to save him. Either way, America wins. Of course.