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Dennis Rodman says he is praying for N.K. leader's health

All News 06:39 April 24, 2020

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Yonhap) -- Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has expressed concern over unconfirmed reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seriously ill, saying he is "praying" for his quick recovery.

Rodman has visited North Korea multiple times and apparently befriended Kim, who is known as an avid basketball fan.

In an interview with U.S. outlet TMZ Sports, published Wednesday, the retired basketball player addressed the recent reports that Kim may be in "grave danger" after a cardiovascular procedure.

"I hope it's just a rumor that Marshal Kim Jong-un is sick," Rodman said. "Hopefully I will find out more soon."

This photo from the Korean Central News Agency, released by EPA, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C), next to his wife Ri Sol-ju (L), talking to Dennis Rodman (R), retired Hall of Fame professional basketball player, while watching a friendly game between North Korean players and former NBA players at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Jan. 8, 2014. (Yonhap)

North Korea's state media has kept mum on the leader's whereabouts since reporting on a ruling party meeting he presided over on April 11.

"There is still so much work we have to do between both the USA and DPRK," Rodman said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "If he is not feeling well, I am praying for his speedy recovery, so that both my friends [President Trump & Marshal Kim] can continue towards a peaceful success."

Rodman has previously asked Trump to allow him to help improve U.S.-North Korea relations. The two met while appearing on the reality TV show "The Apprentice."

Trump and Kim, meanwhile, have also met three times to try to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for U.S. sanctions relief.

Negotiations have stalled for more than a year, but the leaders have maintained personal correspondence.

On Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. doesn't know if the reports about Kim's deteriorating health are true.

"I can only say this: I wish him well," he told reporters at the White House. "Because if he is in the kind of condition that the reports say, that the news is saying, that's a very serious condition, as you know, but I wish him well."

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)

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