Tuesday 21 November 2017

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea

Visit comes less than week after execution of Jang Song Thaek

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is flying to North Korea to help train the national basketball team and renew his friendship with the North's young leader Kim Jong Un.

The visit has been unaffected by the recent execution of Kim's uncle in a dramatic political purge.

Rodman told reporters at Beijing's airport he expected to meet Kim and arrange a international tournament on January 8 in Pyongyang to mark the leader's birthday.

His visit comes less than a week after North Korea announced the execution of Jang Song Thaek in its most serious political upheaval in decades.

The flamboyant Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since he inherited power from father Kim Jong Il in 2011. He travelled to the secretive communist state for the first time in February.

Dennis Rodman on Kim Jong-un: He's my friend for life
Dennis Rodman on Kim Jong-un: He's my friend for life
Dennis Rodman visits North Korea to see "friend" Kim Jong-un
A live TV news programme showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle Jang Song Thaek, second from right, escorted by military officers during a trial in Pyongyang, North Korea
Jang Song Thaek was seen as helping Kim Jong Un consolidate power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago (AP/Kyodo News)
Kim Jong Un with his aunt Kim Kyong Hui, whose husband Jang Song Thaek was executed last week

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