US basketball star Dennis Rodman is North Korean leader's 'friend for life'

Friday 01 March 2013 09.10
Rodman was in North Korea to film an episode of a TV series
Rodman was in North Korea to film an episode of a TV series

Former US professional basketball player Dennis Rodman has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a visit to Pyongyang.

Rodman arrived in the country on Monday with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

The group were there to film an episode on North Korea for a new weekly series for HBO.

"You have a friend for life," Rodman told Mr Kim before a crowd of thousands at a gymnasium where they sat side-by-side.

They chatted as they watched players from North Korea and the US face off in mixed teams.

The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Mr Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011.

Mr Kim told the former Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls player that he hoped the visit would break the ice between the US and North Korea.

Rodman, who once turned up in a wedding dress to promote his autobiography, wore a dark suit and dark sunglasses, but still had on his nose rings and other piercings.

Mr Kim and Rodman chatted in English, but Mr Kim primarily spoke in Korean through a translator.

At a lavish dinner later, the leader plied the group with food and drinks and round after round of toasts were made.

In Washington, the State Department refused to comment on Rodman's visit or his meeting with Mr Kim.

Mr Kim is known to be a fan of the NBA and has promoted sports since becoming leader.

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