Former NBA star Dennis Rodman continues in his friendship with Kim Jong Un, and has brought several former professional basketball players with him to North Korea for an exhibition game against their team. The event is scheduled to take place on Wednesday of this week for the dictator's birthday.
Kim Jong Un is believed to be turning 31 years old; the young leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and his family were big fans of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s when Dennis Rodman played on the team. The two men have struck up an uncommon friendship, and Rodman has even stayed at the dictator's "seven-star" resort.
Rodman is currently visiting the secretive country for the fourth time, and Fox News reports that he brought along a dozen former NBA stars with him for the exhibition game in honor of Kim's birthday. According to Rodman's agent, the team includes Kenny Anderson, Vin Baker, Doug Christie, Craig Hodges, Cliff Robinson, and Charles D. Smith.
Rodman told the Associated Press that he wants to show the world that North Korea is "not that bad." CNN reports that Rodman maintains that he is not trying to get involved with politics, saying that his visit is about "showing people we can actually get along ... as human beings, not politicians."
Because of his rare friendship with the North Korean dictator, some say Rodman has a duty to speak up on behalf of United States citizens who are imprisoned in the country, including American missionary Kenneth Bae. "I hope that if this opens doors and we can actually talk about certain things, then we can do certain things," Rodman says - "but I am not going to sit there and go in and say 'Hey guy, you're doing the wrong thing' ... That's not the right thing to do. He's my friend first."
Rodman believes that his basketball ventures in the country are similar to the Olympic Games, which encourage respect and unity among different nations. "This is strictly about the game and for the love of basketball," he says.