Skip to main content

Dennis Rodman will go back to North Korea; other ex-NBA players to follow

By Holly Yan and Steve Forrest, CNN
updated 2:48 AM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman watches a basketball game with Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju in Pyongyang, North Korea in February.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman watches a basketball game with Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju in Pyongyang, North Korea in February.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The former pro basketball star will help train a North Korean team later this month
  • That team will play an exhibition game against ex-NBA players, a sponsor says
  • It's unclear whether Rodman will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
  • Rodman has said he is Kim's "friend for life"

(CNN) -- Seems like Dennis Rodman can't get enough of North Korea.

The retired basketball star is headed to the reclusive country for the third time on December 18. He'll spend several days helping train the North Korean basketball team, which will play at least one exhibition game against former NBA players in January, according to Paddy Power, the UK-based online betting company sponsoring Rodman's trip.

The heavily pierced and tattooed icon will be traveling with a documentary crew, Paddy Power spokesman Rory Scott said.

Rodman's hoop dreams for North Korea
Rodman on defense over North Korea visit
Dennis Rodman to see 'my friend Kim'

But it's not clear whether Rodman, 52, will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom Rodman calls "a very good guy" -- despite international condemnation of the country's human rights record.

"You have a friend for life," Rodman told Kim after the two men sat next to each other watching an unusual basketball exhibition in Pyongyang in February.

Rodman makes another trip to North Korea

Even though Rodman has made very clear he is not an official diplomat between the United States and North Korea, he said he believes in "basketball diplomacy."

"I'm not a politician," he tweeted. "Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story."

Scott said the names of the former NBA players Rodman has drafted to play in January will be released sometime next week.

Opinion: Rodman just a toy for N. Korea's Kim

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
As diplomats discuss a string of unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea, the families of those abducted anxiously wait and hope.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 11:13 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
North Korea says it plans to prosecute two American tourists that it detained earlier this year, accusing them of "perpetrating hostile acts."
updated 7:38 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
North Korea proposed that "all hostile military activities" with South Korea be halted, but it attached conditions that Seoul is likely to reject.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
North Korean state news is reporting the country test-launched "cutting-edge ultra precision tactical guided missiles."
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
James Franco won't be following Dennis Rodman into North Korea anytime soon.
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Don't you hate it when the weatherman gets it wrong? Apparently, so does Kim Jong Un.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
New signs show Russia and North Korea are developing a closer relationship.
updated 8:12 PM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea and shares his inside look at the most isolated country in the world.
updated 9:25 PM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Many North Koreans listen to illegal broadcasts on homemade radios, some are convinced to defect.
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Jang Jin-Sung, a North Korean defector and former regime insider, speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
iReporter Kenny Zhu visited North Korea in April and was able to take video footage and photos with his Google Glass during the trip.
updated 2:42 PM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
North Korea loves saber-rattling. Here's a look at all the firepower they have stockpiled.
updated 8:03 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
CNN's Elise Labott reports on the new baby pictures of Kim Jong Un released by North Korean state media.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Experts warn that under Kim Jong Un's rule, Pyongyang has shown an even greater willingness to raise the stakes than before.
updated 9:14 AM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
China and North Korea criticize a U.N. report that found crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Megumi Yokota was only 13 when she was abducted by a North Korean agent in the 1970s. What happened after that?
updated 12:30 AM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
Report: North Korea uses multiple techniques to defy sanctions, and shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear missile programs.
ADVERTISEMENT