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.
It's long been known that North Koreans like basketball. Madeleine Albright once gave Kim Jong-Il a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.
During the show, an announcer informed spectators that Kim Jong-Un himself choreographed the dolphin show.
...As well as strange contraptions the crew didn't understand. This one appeared to be some sort of vibrating strap.
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.
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.
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.
Kim Jong-Un and Rodman shake hands before the crew heads to a dinner with Kim and other North Koreans.
The episode ends on a positive note, with the crew stopping at a local park to hang out and play basketball with children.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.