Dennis Rodman, the retired Chicago Bulls star, rabble-rouser, and all-around weird guy got the red-carpet treatment on his bizarre trip to North Korea, improbably becoming perhaps the highest-profile American to meet with new leader Kim Jong Un, apparently a big roundball fan.
Vice, the magazine that sponsored this fantastic voyage, has already written up a brief and possibly drunken account of an exhibition game played by a couple Harlem Globetrotters and some North Korean stars, noting, "Following the game, Rodman gave a stirring speech that extended an olive branch to the Hermit Kingdom. The VICE crew is currently having a reception at the Supreme Leader's house, and Duffy has invited Kim Jung-un to America for a tour of the VICE offices."
And now, the North Korean state press has weighed in. Here are some shots from Rodong Sinmun, better known for its grandiloquent denunciations of U.S. imperialism and threats to turn Seoul into a sea of fire. It seems a good time was had by all:
According to the Washington Post's Chico Harlan, the headline reads, "Roughly, the great KJU watched a basketball game of mixed teams and then met former NBA star(s)." And the account says, "Rodman went up to the auditorium to bow to Kim Jong Un. Warmly welcoming him, Kim Jong Un let him sit next to him. ... The players and audience broke into thunderous cheers, greatly excited to see the game together with Kim Jong Un."
At the reception, it looks like Rodman, ever the clothes horse, embraced the crowd's uniform attire of black with pink accents (and is that a Cosmo to match the Worm's scarf?).
Interestingly, North Korea watcher Adam Cathcart notes, seated two seats away from Rodman in the top photo is Kim Gye-gwan, North Korea's top nuclear negotiator. What that portends is anyone's guess.