Rodman in North Korea to prepare for game on leader's birthday

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Thursday to meet leader Kim Jong Un and put the finishing touches on plans to bring 12 ex-NBA players to Pyongyang for a Jan. 8 exhibition game marking the leader's birthday.

Rodman's visit comes less than a week after North Korea announced the execution of Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, an unprecedented fall from grace for one of the most powerful figures in the country.

Officials in Pyongyang say Jang's removal has not caused any instability.

Rodman's visit — should it proceed uneventfully — could be a sign that Kim is firmly in charge.

Rodman said he was undaunted by the recent political events.

"I can't control what they do with their government, I can't control what they say or how they do things here," he said. "I'm just trying to come here as a sports figure and try to hope I can open the door for a lot of people in the country."

Rodman and Kim have struck up an unlikely friendship since the Hall of Famer traveled to the secretive state for the first time in February with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series produced by New York's VICE television.

Dennis Rodman enters the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday for a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.

Associated Press

Dennis Rodman enters the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday for a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.

Rodman in North Korea to prepare for game on leader's birthday 12/19/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 11:10pm]

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