Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star, has promised a big announcement Monday after a second trip to the reclusive country of North Korea where he met with leader Kim Jong Un.
Rodman reportedly revealed the name of Kim's daughter for the first time, Ju-ae.
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Rodman said he held Kim's baby with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and hinted at another visit to the nation in December.
"The Marshal Kim and I had a relaxing time by the sea with his family. ... I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms Ri [Sol-Ju, Kim's wife] as well. He's a good dad and has a beautiful family," Rodman told The Guardian
. "We shared many meals and drinks where we discussed our plans to play a historic friendship basketball game between North Korea and the U.S. as well as ways to develop their basketball team."
"Kim is a great guy, he loves basketball, and he's interested in building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges," Rodman added. "I know in time Americans will see I'm just trying to help us all get along and see eye to eye through basketball and with my friendship with Kim I know this will happen."
The Irish bookmaking firm Paddy Power sponsored Rodman's trip to North Korea. The company has no previous experience in international diplomacy.
Daniel Pinkston, of the International Crisis Group, which advised Paddy Power about the North Korean trip, told The Guardian that Rodman's attempt at "basketball diplomacy" might not be a publicity stunt.
"Someone might say that Dennis Rodman provides political legitimacy to the regime, or it can be treated as a propaganda coup," Pinkston, an expert on North Korea for 30 years, said. "I think that's greatly exaggerated. If you have a former president of the United States, that factor might be much greater. But someone like Dennis Rodman can't do that. He can't lift sanctions – he doesn't have that power or authority."
Rodman's trip comes at a time when tensions are easing on the Korean Peninsula, as Pyongyang is seeking to restart dormant projects with Seoul.
But in terms of U.S. and North Korean issues, nothing has been done to free Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who has been detained in North Korea since November for committing "hostile acts."
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