Since news started coming out about Dennis Rodman’s most recent trip to North Korea, the whole situation has been, shall we say, interesting. Now, for Philadelphians, the addition of R5 Productions’ Sean Agnew has made it even moreso.
Agnew, the man behind popular Philly venues like Boot & Saddle and Union Transfer, reportedly is a perpetual travel, having been to Asia many times. Which, of course, may inform how he made his way to the game in the first place. As he told CNN in a recent interview:
“When Kim Jong Un came into the stadium…and then it was about 15 minutes of applause, yelling, people jumping up and down screaming… no crying… Rodman played the whole first quarter, then sat away… and got dressed in a traditional Korean suit and then sat next to him, and they just smoked cigars and cigarettes the whole entire… not stopping for a second. But laughing, having a good time, pointing at things, talking… Before the game and during the game, there’s no applause. Just silence. And then the North Korean fans had a cheerleader that would literally be like, ‘OK. Applaud now… Stop.’”
Agnew’s presence in Asia, meanwhile, has been confirmed via social media, with the promoter posting vacation-style pics from the area since the end of December. North Korea shots, however, began appearing around January 5:
Agnew’s email likewise confirms his presence outside of Philadelphia, with an automatic response saying he’s “currently on a plane and unable to check messages.”
So, with that, Philadelphia has been thrown into one of the strangest stories ever to develop. And, frankly, we don’t belong anywhere else.
Update: After traveling 39 hours, Agnew has made his way back to Philly following his excursion to Asia, and it appears that he made it into the game on lark.
Agnew have begun his vacation toward the end of December, stopping off at spots like Bali and Beijing in the New Year. The concert promotor extraordinaire found himself in Thailand when an email came in offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "I had no idea it would be such a big deal until I arrived and saw myself on CNN," he says.
Agnew attended the game along with 16 other Americans, many of whom had been to North Korea several times before. The group stayed in-country for just over three days, sightseeing and touring North Korea's affluent areas alongside foreign press and Rodman and co. Though surreal, the experience wasn't as alien for Agnew, who was expecting the worst.
"I went into it expecting it to be a walk on Mars, but it wasn't that drastic," Agnew says.
Agnew and the others attended the game, ultimately witnessing North Korea beat out the NBA greats. The second half, however, was co-mingled and less serious, leading to a more lighthearted experience. But how was it?
"The game was OK," Agnew says. "It was more of an exhibition. They were playing, but not really going for it."
But, hey, you try and perform under the pressure of having Kim Jong-un 100 feet away.