How to Get Your Camera on Kim Jong-un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.
Photo: Jason Mojica/VICE Media/AP

Dennis Rodman may not have dazzled at diplomacy while partying with Kim Jong-un on his recent trip there. But as Brian Stelter explains in the New York Times, just his presence was enough to pave the way for some of the first Western journalists to get access to the secretive leader: “To get what they wanted, they considered what they could give — and they came up with Mr. Rodman and the Globetrotters.”

Vice is still in North Korea filming for its upcoming HBO show, which will feature Rodman and Kim taking in a game together. They didn’t have any guarantee Kim would show up, but the fact that he did will go a long way toward justifying the “undisclosed amount” Vice paid him and the Globetrotters.

But even in the very beginning, Vice played on Kim’s love of basketball to get a foot in the door. “To get in, a liaison between North Korea and Vice suggested that the company donate basketball hoops and scoreboards to North Korean schools — a good-will gesture of sorts at the beginning of discussions about a visit.” So that’s one way to get a conversation started.

How to Get Your Camera on Kim Jong-un