American basketball legend Dennis Rodman refueled speculation about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's absence from the public, by confirming that "something is wrong" with his pal.
The 59-year-old former Detroit Pistons forward forged a unique bond of friendship with the dictator during his trip to the hermit kingdom in 2013.
Kim, who has once again become untraceable for nearly 20 days now, made his last public appearance during an inauguration ceremony of a fertilizer plant on May 1. The North Korean state media had released pictures of the ceremony featuring their supreme leader laughing and mingling with people. However, doubts were raised over the authenticity of the pictures and theories regarding the hermit kingdom using Kim's body double ran wild.
Rodman Confirms He is in Touch with North Korea
Rodman, who hasn't shied away from making his friendship public with the tyrant, raised his concern during an interview with Piers Morgan, host of Good Morning Britain.
Stating that even though he was in touch with North Korea, he would not reveal much, the former basketball player said: "All I'm going to say is, Piers, I do have communication with North Korea but I'm going to say this though: If you see his sister on TV, running the country, now you know something is wrong."
Earlier this month, while speaking on Mike Tyson's Hotboxin podcast, Rodman, revealed that post an exhibition match, Kim had invited him to a night of wild partying. Terming Kim a "great dad" and an "awesome guy", Rodman said they bonded over their common love for the game. "He asked 'You like my country?' and I said 'yeah, it's fine, it's cool, it's okay'. He then told me 'We asked Michael Jordan to come but he wouldn't come so we asked you," Rodman recalled.
"He then said, 'Let's have dinner tonight. A little karaoke and have some vodka, some hotties and stuff like that. Next thing I know, we are having dinner and we are drunk as sh-t, he starts singing karaoke and I have no clue what the fâk he's talking about."
Kim Yo Jong Holding the Reins in North Korea?
Following the speculation regarding Kim Jong Un's death after a botched-up surgery, the focus shifted to his younger sister Kim Yo-Jong, as the possible successor.
Kim Yo-Jong shot into the spotlight in March after she called South Korea a "frightened barking dog" in a public statement. She was condemning the neighboring nation for protesting against North Korea's live-fire military exercise.
Hinting at the possibility of Kim Yo Jong holding the reins of the hermit kingdom, Rodman said: "OK. You see his sister running the country now you know something is wrong. And I say that's all I'm going to give you. And I'll say something else to you Piers, remember when she went to South Korea before he did? Remember that day? And then he went over there after that. So it's like OK, great.
"So I'm not going to say if he's here or not here. But if you see his sister running the country, because she's next in line, she's next in line, OK."
In the pictures released by KCNA, Kim Yo Jong was seen sitting on an elevated platform with Kim Jong Un and other North Korean officials.