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art of the deal

Dennis Rodman's gifts for Kim Jong-un include Trump's book and a mermaid puzzle

He also gave a copy of Where’s Waldo? The Totally Essential Travel Collection, two sets of soap and two autographed jerseys.

Dennis Rodman Kim Kwang Hyon / AP Kim Kwang Hyon / AP / AP

DENNIS RODMAN HAS delivered a message from President Donald Trump to North Korea — sort of.

The former NBA player gave the country’s sports minister a copy of Trump’s book The Art of the Deal today, a present intended for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

It wasn’t signed by Trump, who was Rodman’s boss for two seasons of the Celebrity Apprentice reality TV show. Rodman has said his visit has nothing to do with the White House.

While his previous visits in 2013 and 2014 often drew controversy, Rodman has said this week he’s just here to meet old friends and have a good time. He and his small entourage have been spending time with young North Korean basketball players and visiting local sights.

He watched a North Korean men’s basketball team and met Sports Minister Kim Il Guk. Along with the Trump book, other gifts he presented for Kim Jong-un include a copy of Where’s Waldo? The Totally Essential Travel Collection, a mermaid puzzle, two sets of soap and two autographed jerseys.

Dennis Rodman Rodman poses with North Korean Olympic athletes Kim Kwang Hyon Kim Kwang Hyon

Rodman also met North Korean Olympic athletes, including judo gold medalist An Kum Ae.

“All of you guys should be proud of yourselves, because, you know, a lot of people don’t give you guys credit, because this is such a small country, and not many people from North Korea can compete around the world,” Rodman said.

He continued: “But for you guys to come back here in your country, with a medal, that says a lot about North Korea, because people don’t really take North Korea so seriously about sports or anything like that.”

‘An old friend’

Rodman, one of the only Westerners to have personally met Kim Jong-un, has been criticised for a previous trip where he sang Happy Birthday to Kim and suggested an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologised.

The sports minister made clear Rodman is viewed fondly in Pyongyang.

“In the past, our respected supreme leader met you several times and he used his precious time to watch the basketball match with the players you brought here. In the past he met you, so our people all know you well,” Kim Il Guk told Rodman. “And also we feel that you are an old friend.”

No role in student’s release

Rodman’s arrival on Tuesday came just hours after the North decided to release Otto Warmbier, an American university student who had been imprisoned for 15 years with hard labour for trying to steal a propaganda banner.

Warmbier, who had been confined for 17 months, apparently fell into a coma not long after his confinement began and Pyongyang issued a statement today saying it decided to let him go for “humanitarian reasons”.

us-north-korea-2-390x285 Otto Warmbier Kim Kwang Hyon / AP Kim Kwang Hyon / AP / AP

Officials in Washington and Pyongyang said Rodman played no role in the release. Behind-the-scenes discussions regarding Warmbier had been underway well before his visit.

The 22-year-old Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial in North Korea’s Supreme Court in March 2016. He got 15 years in prison with hard labour for subversion after he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal the propaganda banner.

His father, Fred Warmbier, told Fox News his son was “terrorised and brutalised” and has been in a coma for more than a year.

The report of Warmbier’s release on the North’s official Korean Central News Agency made no mention of Warmbier’s health. Although US citizens are not banned from visiting North Korea, the US State Department strongly advises against it.

With Warmbier’s release, three other Americans remain imprisoned in North Korea.

Read: US student who fell into coma while imprisoned in North Korea returned home

Read: Dennis Rodman thinks Trump is ‘pretty happy’ he’s going back to North Korea

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