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Originally published December 16, 2013 at 10:19 PM | Page modified December 17, 2013 at 5:56 AM

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Dennis Rodman headed for North Korea again

Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea to help train the country’s basketball stars has not been disrupted by the political convulsions there, notably the execution of the leader of the country’s uncle last week.


The New York Times

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Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea to help train the country’s basketball stars has not been disrupted by the political convulsions there, notably the execution of the leader’s uncle last week for treason and debauchery, the Irish online betting company sponsoring the visit said Tuesday.

Rodman, who won five NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls, would arrive in Beijing later in the day and then travel to North Korea on Thursday with a documentary film crew, Rory Scott, a spokesman for the company, Paddy Power of Dublin, said in a telephone interview from Beijing. Scott said they would leave North Korea on Monday.

“We spoke to a lot of experts who said it’s safe for foreigners to travel to North Korea,” he said.

Rodman visited North Korea this past winter and befriended its leader, Kim Jong Un, 30, a fan of American basketball. Rodman was one of the first Westerners to ever meet Kim after he took power two years ago upon the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

The plan for Rodman to revisit had been made before the abrupt change in North Korea’s politics, culminating in the announcement Thursday that Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who had long been considered the No. 2 leader, had been executed for charges that included plotting a coup, womanizing, gambling and drug abuse.

Jang’s abrupt downfall and the unusual publicity given to it by the secretive North Korean government have created intense speculation of a political power struggle that could make the hermetic country more unstable and unpredictable.

The United States, which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, had already advised that no Americans should travel there, after the arrest of an 85-year-old Korean War veteran who had visited North Korea in October. The veteran, Merrill E. Newman of Palo Alto, Calif., was released and repatriated this month. Another American, Kenneth Bae, remains incarcerated in North Korea, arrested in November 2012 and convicted of hostile acts for Christian missionary work.



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