Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 28 February (Thursday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) watched a basketball with former NBA player and Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman at Ryugyong Jong Yu Jong Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang. KJU’s last reported public appearance was his attendance at a commemorative photo session with personnel involved in the 12 February 2013 nuclear test. Also in attendance, among others, were KJU’s wife Ri Sol Ju, Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission and Chairman of the State Physical Culture Sports Commission Jang Song Taek, Director of the Korean People’s Army General Political Department VMar Choe Ryong Hae, and Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Director of the Korean Workers’ Party Propaganda and Agitation Department Ri Jae Il, among others.
The game took place between two teams consisting of four members of the Harlem Globetrotters and 12 players from the DPRK and ended in a tie (110-110). According to the Associated Press and VICE Media during the game KJU talked with Rodman in English, but KJU occasionally spoke to Rodman in Korean using an interpreter. According to Xinhua, after the game, Rodman remarked “although relations between the two countries are regrettable, personally I am a friend of Marshal Kim Jong Un and the DPRK people.” Xinhua reported that “college students and Pyongyang citizens, as well as foreign diplomats and representatives from international organizations were invited to watch the game” and that “DPRK cheerleaders wearing traditional clothes and miniskirts performed during the intermission of the game. After the game, a DPRK university presented a banner to the Harlem Globetrotters.”
KCNA reported that:
A mixed basketball game of the visiting American basketball players of Harlem Globetrotters and Korean players belonging to the Hwaebul basketball team of Korean University of Physical Education took place at Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium on Thursday. Among the American players was ex-player of NBA Dennis Rodman.
Sports fans and other Pyongyang citizens packed the gymnasium to watch the game with great interest.
Among the audience were foreign diplomatic envoys, representatives of international bodies, military attaches and other foreign guests here with their families.
The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, together with his wife Ri Sol Ju, came to the gymnasium to watch the game.
The players and audience broke into thunderous cheers, greatly excited to see the game together with Kim Jong Un.
Dennis Rodman went up to the auditorium to bow to Kim Jong Un.
Warmly welcoming him, Kim Jong Un let him sit next to him.
Brett Dennis Meister and Jeffrey Raymond Munn also sat near him.
American basketball players first played a demonstration game amid great attention of the audience.
They showed a variety of special basketball skills to be highly acclaimed.
Then a mixed game of DPRK and American players took place amid elated atmosphere.
Divided into red and white teams, the players carried out fierce seesaw battle.
In the first and second rounds, the red team players won 60:47 with long-distance shooting, dunk shot and other skills.
The audience enthusiastically cheered the players as they showed amazing skills.
During breaks, women’s brass band presented glamorous rhythmic formations.
National dances by Korean women artistes and a demonstration performance of Taekwon-Do players added to the cheerful mood.
Korean basketball players played the game well with American players of their teams in a coordinated way by fully displaying their techniques. American players made a good job of the game to give good impressions to the audience.
The white team combined man-to-man defence and fast break. The game ended in a draw 110:110.
Rodman and members of the basketball delegation attended a banquet in the central party complex, hosted by the DPRK Olympic Committee.. According to one the US attendees at the banquet, they dined on a 10-course meal, including sushi and turkey (a fairly common menu when the DPRK elite host receptions for major international visitors and delegations). One US attendee at the banquet tweeted “Um…so Kim Jong Un just got the whole…crew wasted, no really that happened.” According to KCNA Kim Jong said that he ” was pleased they visited Pyongyang to provide young people of the DPRK who are fond of basketball with an opportunity of enjoying the nice game” and “expressed his expectation that such sports exchange would be activated, contributing to promoting mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries.” Kim Jong Un “welcomed their visit to the DPRK, hoping that through the visit they would become familiar with the DPRK people, especially with basketball fans.” According to KCNA Dennis Rodman said that “it was the greatest pleasure for him to meet with Kim Jong Un and his wife for the first time for Americans,” “hoped the sports exchange would continue between the two countries” and “wished Kim Jong Un good health, heartily thanking him for warm hospitality.”
During the 1 March 2013 Korean Central Television [KCTV] news broadcast Kim Jong Un’s attendance at the basketball game and banquet with Dennis Rodman and the US basketball delegation was reported by senior anchorwoman Ri Chun Hui. Later into the broadcast, there were news items which showed Rodman and members of the Globetrotters visiting the Rungra Dolphinarum, the Globetrotters visiting sites in Pyongyang and Dennis Rodman departing the DPRK from Pyongyang Sunan Airport.