Pictures of Kim Jong-un meeting retired basketball player Dennis Rodman have been released in North Korea.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, who is known to be a basketball fan, was seen attending a game with Dennis Rodman, who is in the country filming a documentary with a US media company.
The game involved the three members of the Harlem Globetrotters, who had joined Dennis Rodman on the tour, and members of North Korea’s “Dream Team”.
Dennis Rodman told Kim Jong-un he had “a friend for life”, the Associated Press reports.
Dennis Rodman and the Globetrotters arrived in North Korea earlier this week, accompanied by the Vice television company which said they hoped to engage in some “basketball diplomacy”.
Vice correspondent Ryan Duffy told AP the crowd at the Pyongyang game was “really engaged, laughed at all of the Globetrotters antics, and actually got super loud toward the end as the score got close”.
“Most fun I’ve had in a while,” said Ryan Duffy, who was one of the players.
The game ended in a 110-110 tie.
Kim Jong-un was seen wearing his trademark blue Mao suit, while Dennis Rodman – known for his flamboyant appearance and occasional cross-dressing – wore a dark suit and glasses, but with many of his facial piercings in place.
“They bonded during the game,” Vice’s founder, Shane Smith, told AP.
“They were both enjoying the crazy shots, and the Harlem Globetrotters were putting on quite a show.”
In a speech at the gymnasium, Dennis Rodman told Kim Jong-un he had “a friend for life”.
The meeting was also reported in North Korea’s KCNA state media, which said Kim Jong-un had “warmly welcomed” Dennis Rodman and “let him sit next to him,”.
KCNA said the US and North Koreans had exchanged match tactics and techniques.
The players later joined Kim Jong-un and his wife at a banquet which Ryan Duffy described as an “epic feast”.
The meeting makes Dennis Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim Jong-un since he took over from his father last year. The US said it had no comment to make on the meeting.
Dennis Rodman’s visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and North Korea over the test and Pyongyang’s launch of a three-stage rocket, a move condemned by the UN as a banned test of missile technology.
Both were seen as a breach of UN resolutions and condemned as a threat to stability in the region.