Dennis Rodman fears “something is wrong” with his pal Kim Jong-un and believes his sister will eventually seize power in North Korea.
The basketball legend, 59, struck up an unlikely friendship with the ruthless dictator, 36, when he was invited to the rogue state in 2013.
Rumours about Kim’s health began circulating last month when he vanished for 20 days and even missed the annual celebrations of his grandfather Kim Il-sung’s birthday.
However, despite unconfirmed reports that the despot had died or was gravely ill, the North Korean leader reappeared at a newly opened fertiliser plant with his sister Kim Yo-jong by his side.
Rodman, who had visited the hermit kingdom at least twice, told Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain that he fears a power shift in the country.
He said: “If you see his sister on TV running the country, now you know something is wrong.
“Remember when she went to South Korea before he did, remember that, and then he went.
“I’m not going to say if he’s here or he’s not here – but if you see his sister running the country, because she’s next in line…”
Since he reappeared on May 1, Kim has again vanished from public view.
The speculation around the dictator’s health highlights the lack of western intelligence surrounding the secretive pariah state.
In March, Kim’s sister made her first public statement, condemning South Korea as a “frightened dog barking” after Seoul protested about the North’s recent live-fire military exercise.
Yo-Jong has been called the “alter ego” of her dictator brother and over the past two years has become a more prominent figure at home and abroad.
She is now thought to be the mastermind behind Kim’s carefully constructed public image and is said to have the full confidence of her sibling.
Rodman, who won five championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, remains one of the few westerners who has spent time in the company of the despot who he has called a “great dad” and an “awesome guy.”
Speaking on Mike Tyson’s Hotboxin podcast, the 59-year-old revealed Kim invited him to a night of wild partying after they watched an exhibition game together.
Rodman said Kim told him: “‘Let’s have dinner tonight, a little karaoke and have some vodka, some hotties’ and stuff like that.”
The American sportsman then claims the pair got “drunk as s***” while enjoying some music.
He said: “Next thing I know, we are having dinner and we are drunk as s***, he starts singing karaoke and I have no clue what the f*** he’s talking about.
“Everyone starts clapping and then he has this 18-piece girl band come out and these girls are hot but they just played one song.
“Just one f***ing song. It was the theme from Dallas.”