Ex-basketball player Rodman arrives in North Korea

Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:42pm EST
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SEOUL (Reuters) - Retired U.S. basketball player Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to film a television documentary with representatives of the Harlem Globetrotters celebrity team, North Korean state television reported.

Rodman, now 51 years old, won five NBA championships in his prime, achieving a mix of fame and notoriety for his on- and off-court antics.

Thirty-year-old North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has launched two long-range rockets and carried out a nuclear weapons test during just over a year in power, is reported to be an avid NBA fan and had pictures taken with players from the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers during his school days in Switzerland.

Rodman, who sports trademark tattoos and piercings, played for the Bulls. The trip to Pyongyang was organized by a New York-based television production company, VICE.

"I think most of guys are first time here so hopefully everything is OK and hopefully kids have a good time for the game," Rodman, sporting a baseball cap and sunglasses, told North Korea's KCNA.

VICE, which has previously worked in North Korea, said the week-long trip would include running a basketball camp for North Korean children and engaging in community-based games.

The company hinted that Kim may attend one of its events, but that could not be independently verified.

Its North Korean footage with Rodman will be distributed on HBO in April.

U.S. citizens do not require clearance from home to visit North Korea, and Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson visited in January.   Continued...

Former NBA Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman (L) shares a light moment during a news conference inside a mall of Asia Arena in Manila July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco