Published : 2013-09-03 19:47
Updated : 2013-09-03 19:47
BEIJING (AFP) ― Former NBA star Dennis Rodman Tuesday said he was heading back to Pyongyang to see his “friend,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but refused to say if he would come back with an imprisoned U.S. citizen.
Korean-American Kenneth Bae, 44, has been held prisoner in the North since November, and Rodman had said last week that he might seek the man’s release.
But speaking to reporters at Beijing airport en route to the North Korean capital, Rodman said “I did not promise anything” on Bae.
“I’m just going to meet my friend Kim the marshal to start a big basketball league going,” Rodman said. “I’m just trying to keep the communication job going.”
On a visit six months ago, the flamboyant Rodman declared himself a “friend for life” of the authoritarian leader and embraced him after the pair watched a basketball game together in Pyongyang.
Rodman faced ridicule from many U.S. commentators over the trip, which came at a time of high tension over rocket launches and atomic tests by Kim’s isolated regime.
The Swiss-educated Kim is reported to be a huge fan of basketball and the Chicago Bulls, with whom Rodman won three NBA titles alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s.