Rodman wants to organise basketball games between North Korea, US

Rodman wants to organise basketball games between North Korea, US

NEW YORK CITY - Just back from another visit with his new buddy North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman announced on Monday plans to organise friendship games between North Korea and the United States.

As per an agreement with Mr Kim, the first game will be on Jan 8, Mr Kim's birthday, and the other on the Jan 10, Rodman told a news conference in New York.

He also referred to Mr Kim as "the marshall".

"The marshall told me 'we want people to come here because we are not a bad country,'" the former Chicago Bulls star said. He returned from North Korea on Saturday after a week long visit.

Little is known of Mr Kim's private life in the reclusive and impoverished nuclear-armed state. Rodman confirmed, as he had said earlier to The Guardian, that Mr Kim has a small daughter named Ju Ae and he himself had held her in his arms.

"They gave me his daughter for the first time in history. I held his kid," Rodman said.

Mr Kim succeeded his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011 following the death of the older Mr Kim.

His exact age is not known, although the South Korean press puts it between 29 and 31. Rodman says he is 30.

Since July 2012 it has been known that Mr Kim is married, thanks to official photos that show him beside a young woman at events. His wife Ri Sol Ju looked to be pregnant in shots taken last December.

Rodman said he will return to North Korea on Dec 14 to train the local players who will play Americans in games sponsored by Irish bookmaking company Paddy Power.

He said he has also agreed to train the North Koreans for the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Rodman said the American team that will play in North Korea will be made of former stars from his era, such as Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen.

Mr Kim represents the third generation of the world's only communist dynasty: his father had succeeded Mr Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung.

There had been speculation that Rodman would try to use his budding relationship with Mr Kim to help free jailed American Kenneth Bae, 45, who was arrested in November 2012 as he entered the hardline communist state's north-eastern port city of Rason. But Rodman came home without him.

North Korea, which bans religious proselytising, says that Bae was a Christian evangelist who brought in "inflammatory" material.

He was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour earlier this year on charges of trying to topple the North Korean regime.

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