You Can Join Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un for some Basketball and Peril in 2014
Even though North Korea is in a state of disarray—even for North Korea—following Kim Jong Un's execution of his own uncle, that’s not enough to scare off Dennis Rodman from returning to the country against the wishes of more or less anyone affiliated with the United States. The former NBA star and all-around odd bird will be going back for a third time for a January 8th invitational game featuring, supposedly, "former NBA stars". If you like the idea of traveling with Rodman, or watching TBD ex-NBAers play basketball on Kim Jong Un's birthday, or being abruptly murdered, you're in luck: There's an easy way to join in on the fun.
Koryo Tours, a British tour company based in Beijing that specializes in trips to North Korea, has gained access to the exclusive event for 12 tourists. Here's more info, from the Koryo website:
Koryo Tours has an exclusive partnership with the organisers of the event which enables us to offer a limited amount of spaces to our travellers to fly into Pyongyang with the invitational NBA all-stars team that Dennis Rodman is taking with him (the names will be announced soon).
We’ll have as much contact with the team as possible during the trip and will fly in and out of the country with them as well as staying in the same hotel (Pyongyang’s deluxe Koryo Hotel)
We’ll attend the main event; the match with the DPRK national basketball team. Along with some very senior North Korean politics, people that regular tourists never see. We can’t mention names at this time but we do expect people from the very top to be there, a rare occasion indeed)
According to the itinerary described by Koryo, there’s a good chance those who go on this tour will be able to sit in the same arena and see Kim Jong Un. That’s cool and all, but what we want to know is: Who are these former NBA guys Rodman claims will be accompanying him?
Two years ago, Rodman was part of a “legends” game in Macau, China (organized by former Knicks forward Charles Smith—yes, this guy) alongside some legitimate big names (Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler) and some not-so-big names (Mark Blount, Voshon Leonard, and Vin Baker). It’s safe to say the famous guys won’t be crazy enough to go to North Korea, but what about the smaller guys and their peers?
Truth be told, Rodman’s promise to bring former NBAers to North Korea should be taken with a grain of salt: The US government is really, really against Americans going there. And even if he manages to get worthwhile players to agree, the game will be horrible. I know, because I covered the Macau exhibition. It was 40 minutes of Rodman and Pippen chucking up 25-foot threes. Even basketball fanatic Kim Jong Un might not be entertained—and who knows what would happen then. The package, which costs 6500 euro (about US $8951), includes a flight from Beijing to North Korea, three nights in a hotel, tickets to the basketball game, and incalculable risk.