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Rodman in North Korea to Train National Basketball Team

Rodman Back in North Korea to Train National Basketball Teami
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December 20, 2013 4:32 PM
Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman is in North Korea for his third visit this year, this time to train the nuclear armed nation's basketball players for an upcoming exhibition game. Critics say Rodman, who calls Mr. Kim a friend, is being used for propaganda and publicity. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Seoul.
Daniel Schearf
Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman is in North Korea for his third visit this year, this time to train the nuclear armed nation's basketball players for an upcoming exhibition game. Critics said Rodman, who calls Kim a friend, is being used for propaganda and publicity.

Rodman said a January exhibition game he is organizing with 12 other American players could help open doors in isolated North Korea.

"This country's pretty cool man, it's pretty cool. I understand what's going on with the political stuff. I'm don't want to go into that venture. I'm just doing one thing for these kids here and for this country and for my country, and for the world pretty much," he said.

His trip comes just a week after leader Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of his uncle, the country’s second in command. The political purge raised concerns about stability in North Korea, a gross human rights violator.
 
Arriving in Pyongyang, Rodman said he is not concerned about politics and remains close friends with Kim.
 
As the players prepare for the game to mark Kim’s 31st birthday, the trip’s sponsor, Irish bookmaker “Paddy Power,” is calling the event, “The Big Bang in Pyongyang.”
 
Dan Pinkston is Deputy Director for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group. He supports people-to-people exchanges like Rodman's and says the basketball player means well. “He genuinely wants North Korea and the United States to have peaceful relations and they should end the hostility," he stated. "He's not a politician, he's not a public official, he's not a scholar in international relations. But, this is his genuine sentiment.”
 
Rodman has faced criticism for not bringing up human rights issues with Kim Jong Un.  But Pinkston said Rodman's friendship with Kim, while strange, could positively influence the young leader's views of the world and the U.S.

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Comments
     
by: Richard from: NC
December 20, 2013 4:22 PM
He should stay there with his friends.

by: Dave from: Moore
December 20, 2013 3:13 PM
I thought it took State Department permission for an American to travel to countries like North Korea. Rodman has been there three times without suffering any consequences in this country. Am I to assume the US has given permission for his visits?. If so, why is that or why hasn't Rodman been arrested?"

by: Scott Jackman from: California
December 20, 2013 1:15 PM
Rodman isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, although he is definitely a tool. Living in Newport I had the opportunity to witness his stupidity on several occasions. When North Korea loses to the American players on Kim's birthday, Rodman better make sure he isn't there. Otherwise he may be executed himself!

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