SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with former NBA star Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang, the reclusive nation's official news agency reported early Saturday in Asia.
But it gave no information on whether Kim and Rodman talked about the fate of Kenneth Bae, a jailed American man.
Kim "warmly greeted" Rodman on a visit to Pyongyang and had a cordial talk, KCNA said.
They also watched a friendly basketball game and had dinner together, it added.
KCNA did not reveal an exact timing for the event.
Its nine-paragraph English news article did not mention Bae, either.
Some observers say Rodman, a "friend" of the North's young leader, may play a role in resolving the Bae issue. Bae, a 45-year-old Korean-American man, has been held in North Korea for 10 months.
Last week, Ambassador Robert King, special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, planned to visit Pyongyang at the invitation of the communist regime.
But the North suddenly canceled the invitation, citing the US flying of B-52 strategic bombers as part of military drills.
Rodman first traveled to Pyongyang in February and became the first American known to meet North Korea's leader, said to be in his late 20s or early 30s and a big fan of NBA basketball games like his dad, Kim Jong-il.
Rodman once reportedly said he would try to help US efforts to win the release of Bae. But heading to Pyongyang on Tuesday for a five-day stay, he toned that down and said he was going there for basketball diplomacy, not for Bae.
Critics say Kim's courting of Rodman is just "jolly and trite pleasure."
It's about equivalent to his enjoyment of Disney characters and scantily clad women on stage, said professor Lee Sung-yoon at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
"Rodman, of course, is not qualified to carry out negotiations with North Korea on sensitive political issues. Nor does the North Korean leadership see him as a credible conveyor of official message to Washington," the professor, who also works for the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation, said in an op-ed on CNN.
Kim did not rule out the possibility that the North's unpredictable leader will let Rodman bring Bae home, which would "achieve the effect of adding insult" to Washington.
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