Rodman flies to North Korea to train national team, trip unaffected by political purge

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is flying to North Korea to help train the national team and renew his friendship with the North's young leader Kim Jong Un, a visit unaffected by the recent execution of Kim's uncle in a dramatic political purge.

Rodman told reporters at Beijing's airport he expected to meet with Kim and arrange a Jan. 8 international tournament in Pyongyang marking the leader's birthday.

His visit comes less than a week after North Korea announced the execution of No. 2 official Jang Song Thaek in its most serious political upheaval in decades.

The flamboyant Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since Kim inherited power from father Kim Jong Il in 2011. He traveled to the secretive communist state for the first time in February.