Posted at: 12/19/2013 11:07 AM
Updated at: 12/19/2013 3:40 PM
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrives at the capital airport in Beijing, China for a flight to North Korea Thursday. Rodman will help train North Korea's national team and renew his friendship with the North's young leader Kim Jong Un.
Photo: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has arrived in North Korea, to meet with the country's leader and finalize plans to bring 12 former NBA players to the country's capital for an exhibition game next month.
The game will mark the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Rodman says the game is on track -- despite the recent execution of Kim's uncle in a dramatic political purge.
Officials in the capital say the purge hasn't caused any instability. And despite speculation by foreign analysts that the execution could raise questions about the future of the Kim regime, Rodman's visit could be a sign that Kim is firmly in charge.
Rodman told The Associated Press in his hotel in Pyongyang that he is undaunted by the recent events. He said, "I can't control what they do with their government." He added, "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."
He and Kim struck up an unlikely friendship when Rodman traveled to North Korea for the first time in February with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series. He remains the highest-profile American to meet with Kim since he inherited power from his father in 2011.
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