/// Vice CEO Punches Back at Critics of North Korea Trip
Specs Who Shane Smith Age 43 New gig Host of new HBO newsmagazine, Vice Continuing gig Co-founder, CEO, Vice Media Vice got a lot of criticism when your new HBO show went to North Korea with Dennis Rodman last month and Kim Jong-un showed up. Any response? People are saying, “Well isn’t this just a stunt for your TV show?” And I say, look, if I could pull off a stunt where the most hermetic leader of the most hermetic fucking country in the world works with me to do a stunt to promote my TV show, then every TV fucking company in the world should hire me to work for them. It was not set up as a stunt; it was set up to gain unparalleled access to the hardest place in the world to shoot, and it worked. It’s an absurdist country. Dennis Rodman is an absurd guy. The whole situation is absurd. We went in to try to get a window into a place that people generally don’t see. People can criticize me until the cows come home. How did the idea come about? We had actually done a documentary on North Korean slave labor camps in Russia , and we were talking at that time about the North Korean hatred of America but fervent love of basketball, especially the Chicago Bulls. So we came up with an idea to go over to North Korea and sort of practice basketball diplomacy, echoing the Ping-Pong diplomacy of Chinese-American relations. It was a long shot, but North Korea is always very interesting to us. It’s almost impossible to get any footage out of.