News

Rodman leaves for N. Korea for basketball

Rodman leaves for N. Korea for basketball

BASKETBALL BIRTHDAY: Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman (C) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport to leave for Pyongyang, in Beijing, Jan. 6. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

By Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters) – Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman left Beijing for North Korea on Monday with a team of retired basketball players to mark the birthday of “nice guy” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

This will be Rodman’s fourth trip to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, where he and his team of fellow former National Basketball Association stars will hold basketball games on Kim’s birthday, which is believed to fall on Wednesday, although it has never been officially confirmed.

On previous visits, Rodman spent time dining as a guest of Kim, with whom he says he has a genuine friendship, though he did not meet Kim on his third trip.

Rodman said he will not interfere in the country’s politics.

“People always say that North Korea is like a really communist country, that people are not allowed to go there,” Rodman told reporters at an airport in Beijing. “I just know the fact that, you know, to me he’s a nice guy, to me.”

“Whatever he does political-wise, that’s not my job. I’m just an athlete, an individual who wants to go over there and play something for the world. That’s it.”

Rodman’s latest visit follows the rare public purge of Kim’s powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was executed in December.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has described recent events in North Korea as a “reign of terror”. The purging of Jang, considered the second most powerful man in the North, indicated factionalism within the secretive government.

Wearing sunglasses, a sequin-encrusted cap and a pink scarf, Rodman was asked about his response to critics who said he should not play in the reclusive state.

“Are they going to shoot me? Are they going to shoot me? Come on, man,” he said.

(Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Michael Perry and Robert Birsel)

Recent Headlines

in Music

Family confirms Malcolm Young battling dementia

Fresh
Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Angus Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC
Premiere of 'AC/DC - Live at River Plate' at Hammersmith Apollo - Arrivals London, England - 06.05.11

The AC/DC rocker has been admitted to a care facility in Australia.

in Entertainment

Man’s ‘Harry Potter’ hoard is world’s largest

harrypotter

Think you're a "Harry Potter" superfan? This man lives in Hogwarts heaven and has the Guinness record to prove it.

in Viral Videos

Jeff Goldblum’s bizarre new lightbulb ad

13-overlay6

The "Jurassic Park" actor shows you the benefits of mood lighting, wearing nothing but tiny swim trunks and a bad wig.

in Music

Ray Charles: ‘Genius’ (still) loves company

raycharles

It was a decade ago that Ray Charles released his final album.

in Music

Another ‘Midnight Rider’ official charged

midnightrider

The Allman Brothers biopic assistant director has been charged in connection with the death of a crew member.