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 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:16 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT