Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended basketball games between US and DPRK players at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on 8 January (Wednesday). Attending the game was his wife Ri So’l-chu, VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), DPRK Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju, their wives, “foreign diplomatic envoys, representatives of international bodies, military attaches and their wives, staff members of various embassies, foreign guests and overseas Koreans staying in the motherland” and “sports fans, people from all walks of life and youth and students. Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to a seafood refrigeration facility.
Before the game, Kim Jong Un greeted retired National Basketball Association [NBA] player Dennis Rodman who organized the game. According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “welcomed the American basketball players’ visit to the DPRK and said that the game served as a good occasion in promoting the understanding between the peoples of the two countries.” Dennis Rodman passed along a gift to KJU. According to KCNA Rodman said in a pregame speech that “he felt the Korean people were respecting Kim Jong Un while staying in the DPRK” and “sang a song reflecting his reverence for Kim Jong Un, touching the spectators.” A two-quarter game was played between US basketball players and the Hwaebul Sports Team (of the Kim Il-so’ng Youth League), won by Hwaebul 47-39. A second game occurred between the Green and White Teams, which mixed DPRK and US players. The White Team beat the Green Team 63-54. After the game, trophies and medals were awarded to the players to mark the game. Kim Jong Un met with the players of the two teams. According to KCNA he said that ” watched a good match and wished the American basketball players pleasant days in the DPRK” and posed for a commemorative photo with the US players.