Dennis Rodman Heading Back to North Korea to Train Hoops Team

Image: Dennis Rodman Heading Back to North Korea to Train Hoops Team

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 10:54 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Hall of Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman's latest trip to North Korea to train the country's national team reportedly won't be disrupted by the reclusive nation's latest political upheaval.

A spokesman for Irish online betting website Paddy Power, the trip's sponsor, told The New York Times on Tuesday that Rodman was to arrive in Beijing later in the day before traveling to North Korea on Thursday with a documentary film crew. He'll stay until next Monday.

The Times said Rodman's revisit plans were made before ruler Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who had long been considered the No. 2 leader, was executed last week.

It's not clear whether Rodman will meet Kim on this trip; he has on his prior two visits, Fox News reported.

In an interview with The Associated Press last week, Rodman gushed about his training trip.

"Yes, I'm going to North Korea to train the basketball team," he said. "I'm going to bring American players over there. Yes, I am. I'm going to be the most famous person in the world when you see American people holding hands and hoping the doors can be opened."

Rodman, who won five NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls, also called his return for Kim's birthday "special."

Kim supposedly became a big fan of basketball at boarding school in Switzerland, and especially likes the Bulls, where Rodman won three straight NBA championships between 1996 and 1998.

Rodman has referred to the North Korean dictator as his "friend for life."

The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and advises Americans to stay away in light of the arrest of an 85-year-old Korean War veteran who visited North Korea in October.

The veteran, Merrill Newman, of Palo Alto, Calif., was released and repatriated this month.

American Kenneth Bae remains jailed after a November 2012 arrest and conviction for his Christian missionary work, The Times noted.

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