BEIJING – Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Monday he did not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his just-ended five-day visit to the country, but his plan to return there next month for an exhibition game remains intact.
Rodman, wearing dark sunglasses and a black cap, was tight-lipped at Beijing airport on arrival from Pyongyang.
Rodman, however, told a throng of reporters that the latest visit was “awesome,” although he could not meet Kim as the leader was “busy.”
Rodman went ahead with the visit, the third this year, a week after the execution of Kim’s once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek, which has been seen as the biggest political upheaval in North Korea since the death of the ruler’s father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.
One of the main purposes of Rodman’s latest visit was to train North Korean basketball players, as he plans to return with other former NBA colleagues for a match with the local players to mark Kim’s birthday on Jan. 8.
Rodman, who won five NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls, spent time with the 30-year-old leader, a big fan of basketball, on his previous two visits this year.