Former NBA player Dennis Rodman described the supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un as a nice guy ahead of his visit to the reclusive state this week.
The NBA hall-of-famer left Beijing for Pyongyang on Monday with a team of fellow former players, including Charles Smith.
Rodman and his group of hoop-shooters are making the trip to play a North Korean team in an exhibition match as part of celebrations for Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
Rodman said: “People always say that North Korea is like a really communist country, that people are not allowed to go there. I just know the fact that, you know, to me he’s a nice guy, to me. Nice guy, you know. Whatever he does political-wise, that’s not my job.”
When asked by a reporter what response he had to critics who say he shouldn’t be playing this game in North Korea Rodman replied: ‘‘Are they going to shoot me? Are they going to shoot me? Come on, man.”
It will be the fourth time the 52-year old former Chicago Bulls star has made the trip to North Korea.
The last was in December, shortly after the execution of Kim Jong un’s once powerful uncle Chang Song-thaek for “acts of treachery”, although he did not meet with Kim that time.
State Department officials have stressed that Rodman does not, in any way, represent the US.