Dennis Rodman. North Korea. WTF?
—I. Loomis, via Twitter
Yep, yet another celebrity is cozying up to a foreign leader who's under America's official stink-eye list. This time it's Celebrity Apprentice star Dennis Rodman, who hasn't seen this much coverage since he posed naked on a motorcycle and dished about having sex with Madonna.
Here's what you need to know about Rodman and Kim Jong Un:
The former is a one-time NBA basketball player, currently touring with the Harlem Globetrotters.
The latter runs North Korea, a Stalinist state that launched an underground nuclear test two weeks ago in an act generally interpreted as a provocation against the United States. Human Rights Watch has blasted North Korea's "dire" record of famine, torture and prison camps.
Rodman was filming a documentary in North Korea; at one point he declared the dictator to be his "friend for life" and "really awesome."
The former NBA star is considered to be the most high-profile American to be seen publicly with the North Korean leader.
Think about that for a minute.
Of course, Rodman isn't the only celebrity to spend time with a controversial leader:
• Hilary Swank was paid an undisclosed sum to party with Chechen despot Ramzan Kadyrov in 2011. Many human rights activists had decried Kadyrov's rule as one of the most repressive in recent memory. The actress later apologized and announced that she'd donate her appearance fee to charitable organizations.
• Jean-Claude Van Damme, Seal and violinist Vanessa-Mae also appeared at the bash. The latter two reportedly got $500,000 each while Van Damme commanded a cool million. According to reports, Kadyrov also has counted Mike Tyson and Gerard Depardieu as buds.
• Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado and Beyoncé had all played gigs for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi; all of them distanced themselves from their appearances afterward. At least two of them vowed to donate their fees to charity. Gadhafi was later overthrown, assassinated, all of that.
• Naomi Campbell got dragged into the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, testifying against him amid claims that the warlord gave the supermodel uncut "blood diamonds."
• And Sting? Well, he once played a concert for the so-called "boil your enemies" dictator Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan.