Former NBA star Dennis Rodman told Kim Jong-Un he has a “friend for life” after rubbing shoulders with the North Korean leader in a “basketball diplomacy” mission in Pyongyang.

Photographed sitting side by side while watching a basketball game between North Koreans and the Harlem Globetrotters team, the pair looked at ease and having the time of their lives.

“You have a friend for life,” Rodman told Kim, an avid basketball fan, before a crowd of thousands at a gymnasium in Pyongyang.

Kim and Rodman chatted in English, but Kim primarily spoke in Korean through a translator, said Ryan Duffy, a correspondent at the US-based media company VICE.

“The crowd was really engaged, laughed at all of the Globetrotters antics, and actually got super loud toward the end as the score got close,” Duffy said. “Most fun I’ve had in a while.”

VICE founder Shane Smith told the Associated Press that the Rodman and Kim seem to be getting on well.

“They bonded during the game,” Smith said by telephone. “They were both enjoying the crazy shots, and the Harlem Globetrotters were putting on quite a show.”

The “sports diplomacy” trip to the reclusive state drew mixed reactions amid tensions between the US and North Korea over impoverished state’s recent nuclear test. VICE said the trip will be part of a weekly documentary series which will be aired on HBO.