Rodman Back in N. Korea With NBA Old-Timers

Country's not so bad, he insists

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 6, 2014 2:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Dennis Rodman is back in Pyongyang for yet another visit, accompanied by a team of former NBA stars who will play a North Korean team in an exhibition game to celebrate Kim Jong Un's birthday this week. Rodman calls it "basketball diplomacy" and brushes off suggestions that he is getting too cozy with one of the world's most repressive and brutal regimes. "It's about trying to connect two countries together in the world, to let people know that, do you know what? Not every country in the world is that bad, especially North Korea," he tells the AP. "People say so many negative things about North Korea. And I want people in the world to see it's not that bad."

The NBA old-timers include Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker, but a South Korean player who played against North Korea in 1999 warns that the Americans shouldn't underestimate their opponents. "The North Koreans were quite strong, well-built, and tall as well," he tells CNN. "They were very determined not to lose against South Korea. It was a friendly match but I was a bit intimidated."

US basketball player Jerry Dupree, center, takes photos as he and fellow players including former NBA player Vin Baker, right, arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang today.
US basketball player Jerry Dupree, center, takes photos as he and fellow players including former NBA player Vin Baker, right, arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang today.   (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives at a hotel in Pyongyang, today.
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives at a hotel in Pyongyang, today.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, third left, and his entourage arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea today.
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, third left, and his entourage arrive at the international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea today.   (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
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