Jan. 8 - Former NBA star, Dennis Rodman and a team of retired U.S. basketball players in a training session with North Korean players in Pyongyang. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman and fellow former National Basketball Association players joined a training session with the North Korean team on Tuesday (January 7). Video footage provided to Reuters by North Korea's state news agency, KCNA showed North Korean and U.S. basketball players shooting hoops and conducting exercises. Reuters could not independently verify this material. This marks Rodman's fourth trip to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, where he and his team of retired basketball players will hold games on North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's birthday, which is believed to fall on Wednesday (December 8), although it has never been officially confirmed. On previous visits, Rodman spent time dining as a guest of Kim, with whom he says he has a genuine friendship, though he did not meet Kim on his third trip. Rodman's latest visit follows the rare public purge of Kim's powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was executed in December. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has described recent events in North Korea as a "reign of terror." The purging of Jang, considered the second most powerful man in the north, was widely seen as a sign of factionalism within the secretive government. The visit also comes as the United States government is trying to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American who worked as a Christian missionary before his arrest by North Korea and conviction in May on charges of crimes against the state.