Ri Myung Hun
Ri Myung Hun was a center with the national basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 team of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He was also known as Michael Ri, after his favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan
Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a former American professional basketball player, active entrepreneur, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats...

. Once declared the tallest living human being in the world, he stands 7'8.5" (2.35m) tall and planned to play in the NBA in the 1990s. According to the Associated Press, he was "the world's tallest basketball player."

In anticipation of joining the NBA, Ri worked out in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, where he was scouted by numerous teams. But he was unable to play in the league because of the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 ban on trade with North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, which is set forth in a piece of legislation called the Trading With the Enemy Act. The US State Department permitted Ri to compete in the country in 2000, on the main condition that none of Ri's salary could be repatriated to North Korea. North Korean officials responded by refusing to let Ri leave. Ri was permitted to conduct an interview with CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

's Mike Chinoy in which he was quoted as saying, "I'm a big man. I want to test my ability. I am not interested in money or politics. As a sportsman, I just want to try." Eventually, Ri said he was content to remain playing basketball in the "bosom" of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

. In a game between mixed teams of players from North Korea and South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, Ri scored 26 points in 21 minutes, though his "dankyol" (solidarity) side lost 141–138.
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