HYUNG-JIN KIM, SEOUL, South Korea (AP): Retired NBA star Dennis Rodman has revealed the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s baby daughter and says he is planning a big announcement following his Pyongyang trip.
Rodman visited North Korea last week, his second trip to the country. Meeting with reporters after returning to China on Saturday, Rodman professed his affection for Kim and made it clear that he has no intention of lobbying for the release of an American detained in the country, though he once asked on his Twitter account for the American’s freedom.
On Sunday, Rodman told the British newspaper the Guardian that he and Kim had a “relaxing time by the sea” with the leader’s family and discussed holding a historic friendship basketball game between the U.S. and North Korea.
Rodman said he held Kim’s baby, named Ju Ae, and spoke with his wife Ri Sol Ju. He also alluded to another visit in December.
After his previous trip in February, Rodman said in a media interview that Ri kept talking about her and Kim’s baby daughter. It was a confirmation of media speculation that there was a new baby in North Korea’s ruling family after North Korean state TV in January broadcast video of Ri in which she appeared slimmer than in previous months, when she appeared to be pregnant.
Rodman said on Twitter that he’ll make a big announcement on Monday, without elaborating.
The Guardian report said Rodman plans to organize a basketball game between U.S. and Korean teams and details on the match are expected on Monday.
“Kim is a great guy, he loves basketball, and he’s interested in building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges,” Rodman was quoted as saying.
Rodman’s recent North Korea trip came amid signs of easing tension on the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang seeking to restart dormant co-operation projects with Seoul.
But the country last month withdrew its invitation to a U.S. envoy to visit the country to secure the freedom of Kenneth Bae, a Korean American missionary who has been detained in North Korea since November on charges of committing hostile acts. The North said it cancelled the invitation because of the alleged mobilization of nuclear-capable U.S. bombers during annual military exercises between Seoul and Washington.
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