NBA legend Dennis Rodman, who recently revealed his unlikely friendship with Kim Jong-un began at a boozy karaoke session, has fueled rumors of the North Korean leader’s ill health by suggesting that his sister has succeeded him.
Kim Yo-jong, Jong-un’s younger sister, made her first public statement in March, having long held the trust of her ruling sibling to inform policy behind the scenes and represent him at major global events including the 2018 Winter Olympic.
The prominent political figure accompanied her brother to his two summits with US President Donald Trump and was even said to be acting as his “alter ego” amid mounting speculation around his health in recent months.
Jong-un appeared to have mysteriously disappeared from public view before a state-issued photo showed him opening a fertilizer factory earlier this month, but Rodman, who once drank vodka and sang with the supreme leader during a tour with the Harlem Globetrotters in 2013, is unconvinced.
“I have communications with North Korea,” the enigmatic former Chicago Bulls star told presenter Piers Morgan during a live interview from Los Angeles on television show Good Morning Britain.
“If you see his sister on TV running the country, you know something is wrong. That’s all I’m going to give you.”
Rodman then insinuated that Kim Yo-Jong’s Olympic trip, when the long-serving leader of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea became the first member of the North Korean dynasty to visit South Korea, had been a sign of her ascent to control.
“I’ll say something else to you, Piers,” he continued. “Remember when she went to South Korea before he did? Remember that day?
“He went over after that. So it’s like, ok, great. I’m not going to say if he’s here or not here. She’s next in line to take over.”
Rodman has claimed to have been fond of Kim Yo-Jong when she met him as a guest before he took part in the surprise karaoke session alongside Kim’s 18-piece band.
“His sister was a sweetheart,” he told the New York Post earlier this month, downplaying talk of the demise of Kim, who is believed to be in his mid-30s. “She was very kind to me when [I was a] guest.
“I don’t believe North Korean news until I hear it from their side. I think the fact that they keep to themselves, in many ways, gives the media the ability to run with rumors at times.”
Five-time NBA champion Rodman has been back in the spotlight recently thanks to the immense popularity of hit Bulls documentary ‘The Last Dance’, which included revelations about an on-court dalliance he once enjoyed with former Baywatch star Carmen Electra.