By Shirley Hawkins
Former NBA player and Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, who said he is “friends for life” with volatile North Korea dictator Kim Jun Un, landed in North Korea on Thursday, Dec. 20th to help train the North Korea basketball team.
After landing in Pyongyang, Rodman was greeted by a throng off North Korea officials. The former NBA star said that his visit to the Communist country is a personal trip and that he is not representing the U. S.
“Kim Jong Un and the North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone,” Rodman recently tweeted. “End of story.”
The trip, his third, comes on the heels of heightened political tensions following Un’s execution of his uncle and second in command, Jang Song Thaek.
Rodman told news sources that he plans to shoot a documentary of his coaching stint. There are also plans to hold an exhibition basketball game in which the North Korean team will play against a roster of former National Basketball Association players for Un’s birthday in January, although the names of the American players have yet to be released.
Although Rodman has declined to comment on North Korea’s notoriously repressive regime and atrocious human rights record, he has high hopes that his basketball diplomacy can help ease the tensions between North Korea and the U. S.
“Yes, I’m going to North Korea to train the basketball team,” Rodman told the Associated Press by phone. “I’m going to bring American players over there. Yes, I am. I’m going to be the most famous person in the world when you see American people holding hands and hoping the doors can be opened. If they can. If they can. I’m going. I’m going back for Kim’s birthday. Special.”