SEOUL, South Korea Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman met North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Thursday on the third day of his improbable journey to Pyongyang, telling the leader “You have a friend for life,” a delegation spokesman said.
Rodman and Kim sat side by side at an exhibition game in Pyongyang, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play on mixed teams, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told The Associated Press.
Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told Rodman he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea, Detrick said. Kim later invited the Americans to dinner.
The encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet with the young North Korean leader since Kim took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang.
North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was aimed at sending a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a “hostile” policy toward the North. The two countries fought each other during the Korean War, and do not have diplomatic relations.