North Korea: First Eric Schmidt; then... Dennis Rodman?

Somehow, since his recent visit, Google's chairman has paved the way for all sorts of open (and, perhaps, unexpected) exchanges with North Korea. Yes, Dennis Rodman has arrived.

Rodman arrives in North Korea. ITN News/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I fear that North Korea is about to learn what the rest of us have been forced to swallow for the last few years.

Once technology gets its hooks into you, you have no idea how much you'll change.

Not a few weeks ago, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made what was then termed a private visit to Kim-Jong-un's unusual fiefdom.

Perhaps he was allowed in because the powers-that-be thought they could get a fine price on a few Chromebook Pixel laptops.

Perhaps the "Supreme Leader" himself wanted to improve his Google results and attempt to confirm by technological means that he is, indeed, the sexiest man alive .

Whatever the nation's initial motivation to become more technologically open, it surely cannot have anticipated some of the results.

Today is a fine example.

For following on Schmidt's visit, North Korea has opened its doors to Dennis Rodman.

I am, indeed, talking of the very same NBA player of multiple hair colors, moods, and lovers.

The Washington Post is already concerned that this visit might be unethical.

Rodman is in the company of several Harlem Globetrotters who have trotted off there to film for a future Vice/HBO show and play a few friendly pickup games -- perhaps with the son of the man who claimed he'd had 11 holes-in-one in one 18-hole round.

How could he have missed on those other 7 holes?

Rodman's agent told the Associated Press that the trip would give his client "the chance to speak directly to Kim Jong that the only way to go is with peace not war."

Many would dearly love to hear a recording of such a conversation, perhaps obtained through a secret device secreted in Rodman's nose ring.

Yet if Eric Schmidt can pave the way for people like Rodman -- people whose thoughts and reactions the North Koreans cannot possibly predict -- where might this end?

Will Sergey Brin soon arrive, sporting his Google Glass and recording all sorts of things that the North Koreans would fear being recorded, if only they didn't think that these are merely the sorts of corrective glasses worn by strange, nerdy people?

Many -- no doubt rightly -- believe that visits such as Schmidt's and Rodman's will boost Kim Jong-un's authority and credibility among his oppressed people.

Yet might it be that in the long term, technology and its often unintended consequences will force North Korea to be more known, whether its leaders like it or not?

Today, for example, technology has exposed one small part of North Korea's troubling interior. A report from the Commission for Human Rights in North Korea and Digital Globe said that new satellite imagery reveals that North Korea is expanding its network of brutal prison camps.

I wonder if Rodman will bring back some pictures of those.

 

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