06 abril, 2013

In North Korea, Dennis Rodman Finds New Ways to Embarrass Himself

By Spencer Ackerman

Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea on Tuesday for some basketball diplomacy. He quickly tweeted at popstar Psy, who is not North Korean. Screencap: Guardian video
North Korea’s reward for its recent nuclear test is a visit from the Worm.

All-time NBA great Dennis Rodman has arrived in Pyongyang for a publicity stunt and a bit of basketball diplomacy. Invited a month ago by a North Korean basketball association — which is apparently a thing — the fierce rebounder told reporters at the airport that he’s just trying to put on a good show for the kids. “Hopefully, it’ll be some fun,” Rodman said.
“Fun” is in short supply in the world’s last remaining Stalinist dictatorship. Here’s what isn’t, according to Amnesty International’s 2012 overview of North Korea: “Credible reports estimated that up to 200,000 prisoners were held in horrific conditions in six sprawling political prison camps, including the notorious Yodok facility.” Such conditions included “hazardous forced labour, inadequate food, beatings, totally inadequate medical care and unhygienic living conditions.”

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its third test of a nuclear weapon. This bomb was evidently larger than its predecessors; like the others, however, it resulted in condemnation from the international community. “Just being me,” Rodman tweeted.
And how. Rodman is a magnet for attention and controversy. (“Don’t pretend you’re more seriously hurt than you are,” he once remarked after kicking a cameraman in the groin during a game.) And he’s evidently determined to live up to his reputation on his current trip. “I’m not a politician. Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story,” he continued to tweet, using the hashtag #WORMinNorthKorea.
Rodman quickly made a diplomatic faux pas. “Maybe I’ll run into the Gangnam Style dude while I’m here @psy_oppa,” he enthused — prompting Psy, the South Korean viral pop sensation to gently reply, “I’m from #SOUTH man!!! kk.” Eric Schmidt’s recent trip to North Korea, this is not.

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