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

24 mins ago in Local

SD Senate State Affairs Committee Hears Death Penalty Repeal Bill

Fresh
state capitol pierre

A bill that would repeal the death penalty in South Dakota is in front of the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning.

1 hour ago in Local

Davison County Commission Rejects Permit for Wind Farm

Fresh
WindEnergy

The Davison County Commission voted 4-1 yesterday to deny a conditional use permit for a proposed wind farm just west of Mitchell.

4 hours ago in Local

Medicaid Expansion Still on Track in SD

Bernie Hunhoff

There isn’t much talk about Medicaid expansion in Pierre right now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything moving.

5 hours ago in Local

Aging SD Population will Pressure State Finances

JeanHunhoff131

While much of the legislative attention is focused on giving teachers’ pay raises, another sector of public service employees may need to be next.

6 hours ago in Local

SD Senator John Thune Pushing for Aggressive Senate Agenda

John Thune 11815

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that they may not take up many major issues this year due to the Presidential election in November.