Kim Jong-un
NORTH KOREA

Dennis Rodman says Kim Jong-un is a friend for for life as he leaves North

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 1:18pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 4:15am
 

Retired NBA star Dennis Rodman left North Korea yesterday, professing his affection for autocratic leader Kim Jong-un and angrily rejecting calls to lobby for the release of imprisoned American citizen Kenneth Bae.

Despite earlier calling on Kim to set Bae free, Rodman said the Christian missionary's fate was none of his business.

"Guess what? That's not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae," Rodman told reporters upon arrival at the airport in Beijing.

"Ask [US President Barack] Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton," a visibly agitated Rodman shouted, referencing the former secretary of state.

Chomping an unlit cigar, the typically flamboyant Rodman displayed a stack of photos showing him hugging Kim, laughing and conversing with him over a meal, and the two of them watching a basketball game together.

The NBA Hall of Famer and five-time championship winner said the two had formed a close bond over the course of his two visits to the isolated communist dictatorship. "He's my friend for life. I don't care what you guys think about him," Rodman said.

Rodman quickly flashed with anger when asked about Bae, hurling obscene remarks back at reporters who quizzed him about the purpose of his trip.

Rodman said as he was leaving his hotel in Pyongyang that Kim had spoken about his visiting again, and that Kim "really actually wants to change things".

He said Kim had encouraged Rodman when he goes back to the United States to "say some very good, positive, and very good things about this country, that's what we talked about a lot".

North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, said in a brief report that the two had "a cordial talk" and that Kim invited Rodman back again "any time".

Rodman first met Kim - a basketball fan - during a visit in February to promote the sport and make a film. The KCNA report did not mention Bae, an ethnic Korean US citizen who has been held in North Korea since last year. Rodman once asked on his Twitter account for Kim to "do me a solid" and release Bae.

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