Anti-Semitic French Comedian Dieudonne Heads to North Korea

The performer, who has been convicted of making anti-Semitic and racists comments, said he will be attending a 'peace festival' in the North Korean capital

French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala
French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala Michael Euler/AP

The controversial French comedian Dieudonne, who has been convicted of making anti-Semitic and racist statements, has said he will be going to North Korea on Saturday, the AFP news agency has reported.

The comedian, whose full name is Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, will be accompanied by the far-right French writer Alain Soral, who has previously visited Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, the French news agency said citing a YouTube video posted by Dieudonne.

The comedian, who began his career with a Jewish sidekick in the early 1990s, is credited with inventing the “quenelle," a downward Nazi-like salute. Originally active with anti-racist, left-wing groups, the Paris-born son of a Cameroonian father and French mother began openly criticizing Jews and Israel in 2002, and ran in the European elections two years later for a French pro-Palestinian party.

Dieudonne's visit to North Korea is coming during a period of heightened tensions over the country's nuclear program. North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, marking a dramatic escalation of the regime’s stand-off with the United States and its allies.

"At a time when the United States is organizing military exercises on the Korean peninsula, I believe we have to take action," Dieudonne said, adding that he would be attending a "peace festival" in Pyongyang.

Dieudonne isn't the first high-profile celebrity to visit the isolated Asian country. Dennis Rodman, the former National Basketball Association star, was there in June on his fifth trip. According to AFP, Rodman appeared in video footage presenting the North Korean sports minister with gifts including President Donald Trump's book "The Art of the Deal."

With reporting by Reuters.