Basketball star Dennis Rodman reveals his ‘bromance’ with North Korean Leader By Katie Davies and Nina Golgowski New photos of Dennis Rodman laughing it up courtside beside Kim Jong Un in North Korea have emerged today capturing the former NBA star’s third day aboard where he told the dictator ‘you have a friend for [...]

Sunday Times 2

Kim Jong Un has a ‘friend for life’

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Basketball star Dennis Rodman reveals his ‘bromance’ with North Korean Leader

By Katie Davies and Nina Golgowski

New photos of Dennis Rodman laughing it up courtside beside Kim Jong Un in North Korea have emerged today capturing the former NBA star’s third day aboard where he told the dictator ‘you have a friend for life.’Standing before a gymnasium packed with tens of thousands of North Koreans in Pyongyang the former Chicago Bulls star made Kim his promise of friendship for life in a speech following the game.

New pals: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman laugh and cheer at they watch North Korean and U.S. players during a game in Pyongyang

Kim, a diehard basketball fan, in turn told Rodman he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea but just two weeks after conducting a nuclear test as a warning to the U.S.The pair sat side-by-side chatting it up as they watched players from North Korea and three members of the U.S.’ Harlem Globetrotters compete in a game that ultimately ended with a 110-110 draw.

Two Americans were playing on each team alongside North Koreans, said VICE founder Shane Smith who’s covering the trip for a new weekly HBO series. The Xinhua News Agency first reported on the game, citing witnesses who attended.Kim and Rodman chatted in English, but Kim primarily spoke in Korean through a translator, Mr Smith said after speaking to the VICE crew in Pyongyang.

Dressed in a blue Mao suit, Kim laughed and slapped his hands on the table before him during the game as he sat nearly knee to knee with Rodman.‘The crowd was really engaged, laughed at all of the Globetrotters antics, and actually got super loud towards the end as the score got close,’ said VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy, who suited up for the game in a blue uniform emblazoned with United States of America. ‘Most fun I’ve had in a while.’

‘They bonded during the game,’ Mr Smith said by telephone from New York after speaking to the crew. ‘They were both enjoying the crazy shots, and the Harlem Globetrotters were putting on quite a show.’Rodman, the man who once turned up in a wedding dress to promote his autobiography, wore a dark suit and dark sunglasses, but still had on his nose rings and other piercings on.

A can of Coca-Cola sat on the table before him in photos shared with AP by VICE.After the game Rodman and the others left to Kim’s palace where they dined on sushi together.The leader plied the group with food and drinks as the group made round after round of toasts.The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a ‘hostile’ policy toward the North.The surprise visit by the flamboyant Hall of Famer known as ‘The Worm’ makes him an unlikely ambassador at a time when North Koreans are girding for battle with the U.S. Just last week, Kim guided frontline troops in military exercises.

North Korea and the U.S. fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The foes never signed a peace treaty, and do not have diplomatic relations.On Thursday an image Kim Jong Un’s brother Kim Jong Chul emerged showing him wearing the jersey of former NBA star which may help explain the basketball star’s odd jaunt to North Korea.

The TV show Rodman is shooting for will reportedly air on HBO in early April while capturing him playing basketball and teaching kids the sport, according to VICE.
But the reason the often irreverent magazine was given permission to film in the country may boil down to nothing more than a simple case of boyhood adulation.
Kim Jong Chul, Jong Un’s older brother, was pictured wearing a Rodman shirt while at international school in Switzerland where he was said to be a keen basketball player.
According to Daily NK, some reports have confused the image of Jong Chul with Jong Un because the brother’s share a love of basketball – although the North Korean leader was more of a Michael Jordan fan.

Thirty-one-year-old Chul has been said to work at the WKP propaganda department so may have had a hand in enabling the visit.But he is never seen in public which has led many to question his ongoing relationship with the regime in general. What is not in doubt is Jong Un will have have seen his brother’s support for Rodman as a child and would have known him through his own passion for the sport.

In a memoir about his decade serving as Kim Jong Il’s personal sushi chef, a man who goes by the pen name Kenji Fujimoto recalled that basketball was the young Kim Jong Un’s biggest passion, and that the Chicago Bulls were his favorite

Daily Mail, London




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