'I will not be spying!' England legend Stuart 'Psycho' Pearce heading to North Korea
England legend Stuart Pearce is set to visit North Korea on holiday next year in a bid to “educate himself” on the issues with neighboring South Korea.
The former England captain, who also managed the nation’s Under-21 side as well as Great Britain’s football team at the London 2012 Olympics, revealed on UK radio station TalkSport that he was planning the trip.
But the former football hard-man admits he’s not completely sure what he’ll see when he gets to the land run by Kim Jong-un.
“I don’t know what I’ll see there,” he said. “Just whatever they allow me to see.
“Maybe the demilitarized zone on the border with South Korea.”
TalkSport host and former Scottish international Alan Brazil jokingly asked Pearce if the UK secret service MI5 had requested his services for the upcoming trip, but the 56-year-old former defender made sure there was no doubt about his intentions.
“If anybody from North Korea is listening, I will not be spying on anyone while I’m there!”
North Korea has been extremely guarded about opening its borders to outsiders, but the government has taken the decision to allow around 6,000 tourists from the West per year, though those visits are carefully restricted.
Visitors will not be able to chat freely to locals or take photographs without specific permission from state assistants.
The UK Foreign Office, meanwhile, warns its citizens about travel to the nation, saying visits should only be undertaken if considered “essential.”
Pearce isn’t the first notable name from the world of sport to visit North Korea.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is famous for his friendship with North Korean leader Kim.
Speaking to US talk show host Stephen Colbert about the pair’s unlikely relationship, Rodman explained that Kim is a big basketball fan and the duo often chat about the game.
“For some reason, he likes me. I’m being honest, he likes me,” he said.
“I think the fact that people don’t really understand the fact if you actually go over there and meet him – obviously, you don’t see him talk on TV – but for some reason, he trusts me.
“And when I went over there, the first thing he said to me, he said, ‘Mr. Rodman, we just want to know, can we trust you?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ And that’s how our conversation started.”