Visiting North Korea is different. We know that, but our message is to get people challenge and question the world we live in. Thus, we challenge people to “Visit North Korea”. What people don’t often realize though, is that sometimes famous people have visited the country too! So today we want to go over a number of celebrities who have visited the isolated country for various reasons, excluding those who are politicians or diplomats. You will already know who the most obvious one is so we’ve put him first, but some of the other names might surprise you! Think there is something to be ashamed or scared of in going to North Korea? Not at all!
1. Dennis Rodman
The obvious first! The former NBA stars trips to North Korea and friendship for Kim Jong-un have been headline grabbing for many years now. The leader’s passion for basketball gave him an access point to him. Rodman has often framed his visits in a “peace” way, seeking to facilitate friendship with the United States. He once gave Kim a copy of Trump’s “art of the deal”. Signed NBA and basketball memorabilia are on display in the national gift exhibition house outside of Pyongyang.
2. Damon Albarn
Few people realize that around 2015 Blur and Gorrilaz lead vocalist Damon Albarn visited North Korea. It was a low key trip which made few headlines. Not only that, but the trip left such an impression on him he wrote a song about it on his 2015 Blur album the magic whip, titled “Pyongyang”. The song contains references to the Yanggakdo international hotel, the loudspeakers of Pyongyang and the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
3. Michael Palin
The British comedian Michael Palin, once part of the golden Monty Python group, is currently in the process of making a television documentary in Pyongyang with the UK’s Channel 5. After two years of negotiation with the authorities, the writer was given an unprecedented level of access throughout the country and film all kinds of contexts, right in the moment of the Panmunjom summit with Kim and Moon as well. If he looks at the propaganda paintings of Americans, perhaps he can question why they are calling them big nosed?
4. Billy Graham
Perhaps not a celebrity in the popular understanding but nevertheless a famous figure. As a preacher, Reverand Graham was a spiritual counselor to U.S Presidents, only ironically to be a close friend of the former North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and a frequent visitor to the DPRK. How the US reconciled this remains a mystery, but nevertheless it is clear Billy shown a deep abiding Christian love for all people, even those who ran authoritarian regimes.
5. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali, the most legendary and iconic boxer in history, Visited North Korea in 1995 as part of an event called the “Sports and Culture Festival for Peace.” Although suffering from Parkinsons disease, he remained strong in his passionate beliefs and values. He famously refused to bow to the regime’s leaders, a custom visitors are expected to follow and made a crude remark saying “no wonder we hate these motherf***kers”
6. Gerard depardieu
The famous French actor was spotted in the Yanggakdo hotel in September 2018, in line with the upcoming Mass Games. Someone grabbing a selfie with him at the airport. The motives behind his visit are uncertain, although as a Russian citizen it appears he is there as part of a friendship delegation representing the country!