SEOUL, South Korea — Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman met North Korea's Kim Jong Un today 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 today, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play in mixed teams, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told The Associated Press.
Rodman later addressed Kim before a crowd of thousands, telling him, “You have a friend for life,” Detrick said.
The encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet with the young North Korean leader, said to be a diehard basketball fan, and comes at a time of heightened tensions 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.
Rodman, three players from the professional Harlem Globetrotters exhibition team, and a VICE television crew are in Pyongyang to shoot a documentary about North Korea for HBO.
Today's game in a packed gymnasium ended in a 110-110 draw, with two Americans playing on each team alongside North Koreans, Detrick said.