Can Rodman's "basketball diplomacy" worm its way into N. Korea's heart?

(CBS News) At a time of rising tension between the United States and North Korea, one might not think of sending Dennis Rodman to be a special envoy. But that's essentially what he'll be for the next week.

The outrageous former National Basketball Association legend -- known as "The Worm" -- plans to use what has been dubbed "basketball diplomacy."

At Pyongyang's airport, Rodman was greeted by dignitaries, such as the general secretary for the Korean Basketball Association, and camera crews eager to hear from the pierced and tattooed basketball bad boy.

Rodman said, "We got invited and we just came over to have some fun and hopefully, you know, it'd be some fun!"

Rodman arrived in North Korea with members of the Harlem Globetrotters. They are there to run youth basketball camps and tape an episode of the HBO show "Vice." Vice founder Shane Smith told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview before the group's departure from Beijing, that the Americans hope to engage in a little "basketball diplomacy."

But it's not clear Rodman even knows where he is -- on Tuesday he tweeted he wanted to meet "Gangnam Style" singer Psy, a pop star from South Korea.

David Sanger, New York Times chief Washington correspondent and author of "Confront & Conceal," said, "Well, it's a little crazy to have Dennis Rodman in North Korea. And what I think that tells you is that the new leader, Kim Jong-Un, is clearly attempting to show that he is a different kind of leader."

Jong-Un reportedly excelled at basketball when he was a student in Switzerland. His father, Kim Jong-Il, was such a fan of the Chicago Bulls that Madeleine Albright once gave him a Michael Jordan autographed basketball.

Rodman won three NBA championships with the Bulls. He's one of the best rebounders and defenders to ever play the game -- and definitely one of its most colorful, having dated Madonna, married Carmen Electra and showed up at the Academy Awards in an over-the-top ensemble, featuring an oversize top hat and electric blue coat.

Like Google chief Eric Schmidt's visit in January, which followed a provocative rocket launch, Rodman arrived in the hermit kingdom at a sensitive time -- just two weeks after an underground nuclear weapons test.

Sanger remarked, "We're at one of those odd points where the U.S. government and North Korean government can't talk to each other, but by reaching out in this way, there's a hope of sort of breaking the ice."

Watch Jan Crawford's full report in the video above.

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