O’Brien did briefly put aside the jokes to reflect on the symbolism of his and Yeun’s presence on North Korean soil. ”We’ve been obviously kidding around a little bit, but this is a serious thing,” he said. “The idea that you and I could be in North Korea, talking and communicating freely, seems like kind of a cool message.”

After the thaw in US-Cuba relations last year, O’Brien became the first American personality to film in Cuba since the embargo was implemented in 1962. The comedian was also the first American to broadcast a show from Armenia.

Though some might see O’Brien’s strategy of comedy-as-diplomacy as a bit condescending, he seems awfully sincere in his attempt to bring people together through the universality of humor. As he told USA Today after he went to Cuba in 2015, “I don’t want this to be political. A lot of my remotes are me as a fish out of water, the jokes are usually on me, I want to go as a comedian making fun of myself and make Cuban people laugh. In that regard, I think I was successful.”

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