Ex-NBA star Rodman heads to North Korea as private citizen

UNTV News   •   June 13, 2017   •   8256

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) watches a basketball game between former U.S. NBA basketball players and North Korean players of the Hwaebul team of the DPRK with Dennis Rodman (R) at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang January 9, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA

Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman said on Tuesday he was on his way to North Korea as a private citizen, returning to the isolated country where he has previously met leader Kim Jong Un.

Rodman was mobbed by journalists when he arrived at Beijing’s airport on Tuesday to catch a flight for the North Korean capital.

“I’m just trying to open the door,” Rodman told reporters wearing sunglasses, a dark shirt and baseball cap, and with facial piercings.

“My purpose is to actually to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that’s the main thing,” said Rodman, who spoke quietly and was escorted through customs and immigration by two handlers.

Rodman said earlier in a tweet: “I’m back! Thanks to my sponsor www.potcoin.com.” The company bills itself as a digital crypto-currency provider for the legal marijuana industry.

Rodman added in the tweet that he would “discuss my mission upon my return to the USA.”

Tensions have heightened on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests and its vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, presenting U.S. President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security worry.

Rodman appeared twice on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” show before he became president and praised him on Twitter during last year’s election campaign.

“I am pretty much sure that he is happy with the fact that I am over here trying to accomplish something that we both need,” Rodman said, when asked on Tuesday if he had spoken with Trump.

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U.S. Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, speaking with reporters in Tokyo after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s top national security adviser, said Rodman was traveling as a private citizen.

“We are aware of his visit. We wish him well. But we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety,” he said.

Four Americans are being held in North Korea, including 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier, who was detained in January 2016 and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor for attempting to steal a propaganda banner.

The flamboyant Rodman, who has called Kim “an awesome kid,” said in an interview with CNN in 2014, his travels to North Korea would help “open the door” to the isolated nation.

The unpredictable Trump has offered some mixed messages to Kim Jong Un, saying he would be “honored” to meet him under the right conditions and once describing the young leader as “a pretty smart cookie.”

But Trump has also described Kim as a “madman with nuclear weapons” who could not be let on the loose.

The basketball Hall of Famer has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some U.S. politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

Rodman, 56, nicknamed “The Worm” during his playing career and known for his tattoos, body piercings and multi-colored hair, is considered one of the best defensive players and rebounders in NBA history.

He won five league championships with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. — By Jake Spring and Joseph Campbell | BEIJING

(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Steve Holland in Washington and Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo; Editing by Tony Munroe and Bill Tarrant)

Pyongyang disinfects the city after North Korea introduced tougher curbs against coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.

Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.

The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.

Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)

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North Korea’s Kim says there will be no more war thanks to nuclear weapons

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said there will be no more war as the country’s nuclear weapons guarantee its safety and future despite unabated outside pressure and military threats, state media reported on Tuesday (July 28).

Kim made the remarks as he celebrated the 67th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which fell on July 27, with a reception for veterans, the North’s state-run television KRT said.

The country developed nuclear weapons to win “absolute strength” to stave off another armed conflict, Kim said in a speech carried by state media, emphasizing the defensive nature of the programs.

The speech came amid stalled talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief from Washington.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, raising hopes for a negotiated end to North Korea’s nuclear threats. But their second summit, in 2019 in Vietnam, and subsequent working-level meetings fell apart. (Reuters)

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U.S. envoy Biegun meets Seoul’s top security adviser to discuss North Korea

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

United States Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun held a meeting with South Korea’s top security adviser on Thursday (July 9) before heading off to Japan in a trip overshadowed by stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea.

According to Seoul’s presidential office, Biegun met with Suh Hoon, a former spy chief, and discussed the North’s recent movement and ways to foster peace on the Korean peninsula. Suh said he “highly appreciated” the U.S. envoy’s efforts to resume talks with North Korea.

North Korea has said it has no intention of sitting down again with the United States, though U.S. President Donald Trump said this week he would be open to another summit with leader Kim Jong Un. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

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