Skip to main content

Dennis Rodman to North Korea: 'I come in peace'

By Alan Duke
updated 11:56 AM EST, Wed February 27, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The United States and North Korea are at odds over North Korea's nuclear ambitions
  • Former NBA star Dennis Rodman tweets he's "looking forward to sitting down with Kim Jung Un"
  • The North Korean leader is known to be a huge basketball fan
  • The trip was arranged by the producers of the HBO show "Vice"

(CNN) -- Flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman and three members of the famed Harlem Globetrotters arrived in North Korea Tuesday to "entertain and inspire" with their basketball skills while they film a TV show.

"I come in peace. I love the people of North Korea!" Rodman, 51, said on Twitter Tuesday.

The weeklong visit comes at a time of heightened tension between the United States and North Korea, a result of Pyongyang's pursuit of a nuclear program. Just days ago, North Korea threatened "miserable destruction" in response to routine military exercises planned between South Korea and the United States.

North Korea provoked Western condemnation earlier this month with an underground nuclear test that was preceded by the launch of a long-range missile capable of transporting a warhead in December.

Could Rodman's visit, which a statement from the Harlem Globetrotters calls "ambassadorial," help cool down this international hot spot?

Dennis Rodman visits North Korea
2012: Rodman a children's author?

Rodman tweeted that he was "looking forward to sitting down with Kim Jung Un," known to have been a huge basketball fan when he was a teenage student in Switzerland.

"The whole world for him was just basketball all the time," a former classmate of North Korea's supreme leader told CNN after he assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011. He is believed to be about 29 years old.

Rodman, whose nickname is "Worm," said he was "honored to represent The United States of America."

"I'm not a politician. Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story," he tweeted.

His knowledge of geography and geopolitics may be a little off, though, judging from one message.

"Maybe I'll run into the Gangnam Style dude while I'm here," he said. Psy, the artist who made the smash hit song and video, is from South Korea.

"Our aim is to entertain and inspire children everywhere," Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said. "Every child deserves that opportunity."

It was unclear whether Rodman, who is accompanied by Globetrotters Bull Bullard, Buckets Blakes and Moose Weekes, will be taken to North Korea's countryside, where aid groups say malnutrition is rampant. According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of thousands of people remain enslaved in prison camps, which are "notorious for horrific living conditions and abuse."

The trip was arranged by the producers of an HBO show that premieres in April, the team said. The documentary series is hosted by Vice magazine founder Shane Smith and executive produced by HBO commentator Bill Maher.

When Rodman finishes his North Korean mission, he'll travel to New York to work with a reality TV supreme leader, Donald Trump, for a season of "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex, agents caught up with a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back terror to Europe.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT