Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 6 September (Friday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) met with retired National Basketball Association [NBA] player Dennis Rodman. Also in attendance was Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu) Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his inspection of the Ryongyon Sea Fish Breeding Station. According to KCNA Kim Jong Un greeted Rodman “as a friend” and told Rodman “might visit the DPRK any time and spend pleasant days, having a rest.” According to KCNA, Rodman said he was “very grateful to Kim Jong Un for sparing a precious time to meet him and his party despite his tight schedule” and that “this is an expression of good faith towards the Americans.” Rodman also said “he was fortunate to revisit the DPRK” due to his friendship with Kim Jong Un and he “evinced his will to contribute to boosting diverse sports and cultural exchange with the DPRK.”
Dennis Rodman then presented a series of gifts, including basketballs, a Chicago Bulls jersey and bottles of liquor to Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Un, Ri Sol Ju, Dennis Rodman and his entourage then watched a men’s basketball game between the 25 April Team of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] and the Amnokgang Team of the Ministry of People’s Security. Kim Jong Un then hosted a dinner party for Rodman. According to KCNA, Rodman expressed “his heartfelt thanks to Kim Jong Un for spending a lot of time for him and his party” and he said he “would remember this visit as an unforgettable beautiful memory all his life.”
Rodman also met Kim Jong Un’s daughter Kim Ju Ae (Kim Chu-ae). He told The Guardian: “I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms Ri [Sol-Ju, Kim’s wife] as well. He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family. Kim told me, ‘I’ll see you in December.'” Rodman said of Kim Jong Un that he “is a great guy, he loves basketball, and he’s interested in building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges,” and that “I know in time Americans will see I’m just trying to help us all get along and see eye to eye through basketball and with my friendship with Kim I know this will happen.” During his visit Rodman said that he and Kim Jong Un “had a relaxing time by the sea with his family” and that “we shared many meals and drinks where we discussed our plans to play a historic friendship basketball game between North Korea and the US as well as ways to develop their basketball team.”
Dennis Rodman arrived in the DPRK on 3 September along with Christopher Volo, a manger at his sports marketing firm Prince Marketing Group, Michael Spavor of Pyongyang Project, among others. Rodman left the country on 7 September.