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Rodman brings basketball team to N Korea

Former NBA star arrived in Pyongyang with a team of retired basketball players to mark Kim Jong Un's birthday.

Last updated: 06 Jan 2014 08:51
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On previous visits, Rodman dined as a guest of Kim, with whom he says he has a genuine friendship [AP]

A former NBA star has lead a team of retired basketball players to North Korea to mark Kim Jong Un's birthday with a basketball match, saying he wanted "people in the world to see it's not that bad."

[T]o me he's a nice guy.

Dennis Rodman, Former NBA star

Dennis Rodman, who has already travelled solo to Pyongyang three times, told reporters before leaving Beijing airport for North Korea on Monday that Kim was "a nice guy" and that he would not interfere in the North Korea's politics.

'Whatever he [Kim] does political-wise, that's not my job," Rodman said. "I just know the fact that, you know, to me he's a nice guy, to me."

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.

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.

Rodman's visit came after 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 as a "reign of terror". The purging of Jang, considered the second most powerful man in the North, indicated factionalism within the secretive government.

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