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February 26th, 2013
Dennis Rodman

Flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman is heading to North Korea with VICE media company - tattoos, piercings, bad-boy reputation and all.

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 [its a magazine that hipsters read] 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's the second high-profile American visit this year to North Korea, a country that remains in a state of heightened tension with the U.S. It also comes two weeks after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in defiance of U.N. bans against atomic and missile activity.

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt made a surprise four-day trip to Pyongyang, where he met with officials and toured computer labs in January, just weeks after North Korea launched a satellite into space on the back of a long-range rocket.

Washington, Tokyo, Seoul and others consider both the rocket launch and the nuclear test provocative acts that threaten regional security.

Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters 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.


Promoting technology and sports are two major policy priorities of Kim Jong Un, who took power in December 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

But the often over-the-top Rodman, with his maze of tattoos, nose studs and neon-bleached hair, seems like an unlikely diplomat to a country where male fashion rarely ventures beyond military khaki and growing facial hair is forbidden.

Here's the craziest thing about this: Kim Jong-Un, a guy who has vowed death to all Americans, is allegedly a huge Chicago Bulls fan.  Apparently as a kid he use to watch them on TV at a private school he attended in Switzerland in the 90s when Jordan, Pippen and Rodman were the best team in the world.  

If anyone can solve this whole nuclear holocaust fiasco with North Korea, it's Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters....wait, what?

-W&J's Producer

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