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Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman became the highest-profile American to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un since he took power. As he left the country, Rodman had nothing but praise for Kim, calling him “awesome” and his predecessors “great leaders.”
Rodman left for Pyongyang Monday, joining members of the Harlem Globetrotters and the VICE film crew, which recorded the trip for an HBO show. During the week, Rodman was treated like royalty, having dinner with Kim and watching a game of basketball, a sport that has become increasingly popular there.
“He's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him,” Rodman told reporters at Pyongyang’s airport, reports the Associated Press. “Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome.”
Rodman, who had to fly to Beijing on his way back to the U.S., also called North Koreans “so honest.” He added that Kim’s predecessors, his father and grandfather, “were great leaders.”
As Reuters notes, when Rodman arrived in Beijing, he refused to say anything when approached by reporters.
Kim has continued to rule like his father, pouring millions into the military while the general population starves. Just weeks ago, he conducted an underground nuclear test, which drew widespread international condemnation. Even China, its main ally, condemned the test.