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What's Dennis Rodman Doing in North Korea?

AP Photo

American basketball star Dennis Rodman and several members of the Harlem Globetrotters are in North Korea, where they will film for a forthcoming Vice/HBO program and promote some “basketball diplomacy,” including pick-up games in Pyongyang.

Whatever the trip’s impact, it reminds me of a debate that I’ve heard many times among people who work on issues relating to North Korea: What are the ethical pros and cons of visiting the world’s most oppressive country? Although there is no consensus view and a significant minority of North Korea-watchers say that visiting the country helps to open it up, I most frequently hear experts argue that tourism is unethical because it directly funds and offers free propaganda to the regime.

Scott Snyder of the Council on...

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