Passport

Dennis Rodman says he will vacation with Kim Jong Un. But where?

We’re all familiar with the genre of storytelling in which two characters, usually male, leave home and embark upon a quest. Hilarity and misadventure often ensue, as lessons are learned, mistakes are regretted, and friendships are tested and reaffirmed. It’s an old American standard, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the Blues Brothers, but ...

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We’re all familiar with the genre of storytelling in which two characters, usually male, leave home and embark upon a quest. Hilarity and misadventure often ensue, as lessons are learned, mistakes are regretted, and friendships are tested and reaffirmed. It’s an old American standard, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the Blues Brothers, but the latest version is more Robot Chicken than Hollywood: Colorful former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman says he plans to vacation with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un this August.

Rodman, who visited Pyongyang in late February, confounding the North Korea-watching world with the access he received, didn’t give any more details about their travel plans. Of course, in a world where the best known source for the nuclear-armed leader of a misanthropic state is a basketball player who, in 1996, married himself, the two figures traveling together is not all that surprising.

Still, where will they go?

Rodman has spent a lot of time in Las Vegas, but Kim, considering his country just threatened the United States with a preemptive nuclear strike, probably wouldn’t be able to get a visa. If Kim wants to get out of Asia, there’s always the Montreux Casino on the shores of Lake Geneva in discreet Switzerland. Kim reportedly spent a few years in state-run school in nearby Berne, where "he was a big fan of the Chicago Bulls," Reuters quoted one of his classmates as saying.  

Kim’s father and grandfather, North Korean leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung respectively, were reportedly afraid of flying. If Kim Jong Un has developed the same phobia or paranoia as his father, who reportedly survived two assassination attempts, his international vacation options are limited.

Harbin, a Chinese city known for its beer, is nearby; it’s not the best tourist destination, but they could visit Stalin Park (yes, that Stalin) and Kim could see what Chinese-led development could mean for Pyongyang.   

In the end, a domestic holiday is probably the best choice: there’s the scenic Mt. Paedku, the mountain that straddles the border between China and North Korea, on which, legend has it, Kim Jong Un’s father was born; or a hotel near Mt. Myohyang, featuring fresh air that supposedly cures hangovers. (I stayed there in 2008; if memory serves, we nicknamed it The Overlook and wondered when the blood would rush from the elevators.)  

And of course, there’s North Korea’s rollercoasters

Isaac Stone Fish is a journalist and senior fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on U.S-China Relations. He was formerly the Asia editor at Foreign Policy Magazine. Twitter: @isaacstonefish

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