Voice of Korea, the international broadcasting service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has posted on its YouTube account a full video report showing Kim Jung-un and Dennis Rodman watching a basketball game between the North Korea team and the Harlem Globetrotters.
The North Korean leader and the flamboyant former NBA star enter the Pyongyang stadium under thunderous applause and acclamations from the crowd. The few foreigners in attendance are visibly less enthusiastic than the North Korean spectators.
A whimsically cheerful music provides the soundtrack for the news item while a woman’s voice comments the broadcast and the game. The match ended with a 110-110 tie. More applause and acclamations for Kim Jung-un marked the end of the game as both teams exchanged parting gifts before everybody left for lunch.
“He’s a great guy. He’s awesome and honest,” Rodman told reporters after he returned to the US.
On ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos quizzed Rodman about the bizarre friendship, and asked whether he was aware of Kim’s threats against the United States or the regime’s record on human rights.
“I didn’t look at all of that, I don’t condone that. I hate the fact that he’s doing that. But that’s a human being though. He let his guard down,” Rodman said.
Rodman now has more first-hand experience of the new North Korean leader than any other American.
“What I saw in that country…I saw that people respect him and his family,” said Rodman, adding that Kim has a message for the president: “Call him. I don’t want to do war.”
The basketball star offered a prescription for diplomacy: “Kim loves basketball. Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there.”
Rodman said he planned to go back to North Korea to “find out more about what’s really going on.”
North Korea provoked Western condemnation earlier this month with an underground nuclear test that was preceded by the launch of a long-range missile capable of transporting a warhead in December.