Here's What Happened When Dennis Rodman Went To North Korea

dennis rodman kim jon un watch basketball

HBO

documentary series Vice aired its most controversial episode yet on Friday, featuring former NBA star Dennis Rodman and a diplomatic trip to North Korea.Rodman was criticised for calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un his “friend for life” despite the country’s egregious human rights violations and nuclear threats.

The  crew that traveled to North Korea emphasised how eerie it was there — the shopping mall was completely deserted, the city’s skyscrapers were well-lit despite an ongoing energy crisis, and the everything about the trip seemed staged by the North Korean government.

The trip was heavily controlled by the government, and Vice says they were told what the could and could not record on video.

You can subscribe to HBO and watch the episode or check out our highlights.

The idea behind the episode is using basketball as a common ground to start a dialogue with North Koreans and get into the country for a first-hand tour.

From hbo.vice.com.

It's long been known that North Koreans like basketball. Madeleine Albright once gave Kim Jong-Il a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.

From hbo.vice.com.

The Vice crew got a tour of North Korean capital Pyongyang, led by government handlers.

From hbo.vice.com.

A few members of the Harlem Globe Trotters accompanied Rodman and the Vice crew on the trip.

From hbo.vice.com.

At their hotel, they were greeted by a large banner celebrating North Korea's third nuclear test.

From hbo.vice.com.

The Globe Trotters played a pick-up game with a young basketball team in North Korea.

From hbo.vice.com.

From hbo.vice.com.

From hbo.vice.com.

The crew also visited what is the equivalent of Sea World in North Korea.

From hbo.vice.com.

Divers performed a water routine.

From hbo.vice.com.

During the show, an announcer informed spectators that Kim Jong-Un himself choreographed the dolphin show.

From hbo.vice.com.

This theme followed at the city's vast fitness centre...

From hbo.vice.com.

...Where a greeter informed the crew that Kim Jong-Un mapped out the facility.

From hbo.vice.com.

There were normal workout machines...

From hbo.vice.com.

...As well as strange contraptions the crew didn't understand. This one appeared to be some sort of vibrating strap.

From hbo.vice.com.

There was also a steam treatment that supposedly prevents skin from getting older...

From hbo.vice.com.

...And a machine that the North Korean guide said enlarges breasts and treats breast cancer.

From hbo.vice.com.

The grocery store included on the crew's tour was well-stocked despite the fact that the country doesn't have enough food to feed its own people.

From hbo.vice.com.

The store featured Western products such as Coke.

From hbo.vice.com.

The crew then stopped at a shopping mall that was completely devoid of customers.

From hbo.vice.com.

The crew said they couldn't buy anything in the oddly sterile store.

From hbo.vice.com.

The city's skyscrapers seemed decoratively well-lit despite the country's chronic power shortages.

From hbo.vice.com.

This map shows how dark North Korea is compared to its southern neighbour. The Vice crew speculated that the lights in Pyongyang were turned on specifically for their visit to make the country look good.

From hbo.vice.com.

The road to Kim Il-Sung University, another stop on the trip, is completely empty.

From hbo.vice.com.

Everything seems strangely orderly.

From hbo.vice.com.

The crew points out that in the computer lab filled with students, no one seems to know how to use a computer. This student stares blankly at his screen without searching for anything on Google.

From hbo.vice.com.

Kim Jong-Un and Rodman are seated next to each other as they watch.

From hbo.vice.com.

The Harlem Globe Trotters put on a humorous show around half-time.

From hbo.vice.com.

The game doesn't get exciting until the final quarter.

From hbo.vice.com.

The game ends in a tie. Overtime is not allowed in North Korean basketball.

From hbo.vice.com.

From hbo.vice.com.

Kim Jong-Un and Rodman shake hands before the crew heads to a dinner with Kim and other North Koreans.

From hbo.vice.com.

The episode ends on a positive note, with the crew stopping at a local park to hang out and play basketball with children.

From hbo.vice.com.

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