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Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has wrapped up his trip to North Korea with an emotional tribute to Kim Jong Un.
Dennis Rodman has a new best friend: Kim Jong Un.
The two palled up during the four days Rodman ("The Worm") spent in North Korea which, tragically for headline writers everywhere, are now at an end.
The former NBA legend flew back to the US today, but not before paying an affectionate tribute to his autocratic buddy.
"He was so honest," Rodman told reporters at Pyongyang airport (we think – as you'll see in the video below, he's a little hard to understand).
"And he's such a proud man. His country like him – not like him, love him... I love him, the guy is awesome."
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Lest there be any doubt about his feelings, Rodman told Kim he had himself "a friend for life," the Associated Press was reliably informed.
Rodman made the comments at an exhibition game laid on by the Harlem Globetrotters – who took part in the same "basketball diplomacy" mission organized by VICE magazine – especially for the Supreme Leader.
According to North Korea's state-run news agency, KCNA:
The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, together with his wife Ri Sol Ju, came to the gymnasium to watch the game. [...] Dennis Rodman went up to the auditorium to bow to Kim Jong Un. Warmly welcoming him, Kim Jong Un let him sit next to him.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
"They bonded during the game," VICE founded Shane Smith told the AP. North Korean state television showed them smiling broadly from the bleachers, and on another occasion, hugging.
According to KCNA, Rodman thanked Kim for his visit, which he called a "great privilege," and expressed regret that North Korea's relations with the US are "not good."
Kim, meanwhile, said he hoped similar sports exchanges would continue, "contributing to promoting mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries."
Alas, Rodman won't be able to return the favor anytime soon. At a post-game banquet, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy said he invited Kim to visit the US – a proposal that was met, Duffy told the AP, with "hearty laughter."
Here's Rodman giving his verdict on Kim, courtesy of the Telegraph:
And here's how North Korean TV reported their meeting (via the Guardian):