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Former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman is going back to North Korea for the second time this year. While there was speculation that he might try to convince his ‘friend’ Kim Jong-Un to release a jailed American, he told reporters that he didn’t promise anything.
Back in February, Rodman visited the isolated country during a trip sponsored by Vice Media, which was making a documentary on the trip. Rodman praised the dictator, calling him “awesome” and saying that he “loves him.” Later, he said he planned to go back and he’s currently on his way for another five-day trip there.
According to The New York Times, this trip is being sponsored by Paddy Power, an Irish gambling outfit that also sent him to the Vatican to get people to bet on who would be elected pope.
“I’ve come out here to see my friend,” Rodman said on his way to North Korea. “I want to talk about basketball.”
The AFP notes that the trip also comes after Rodman said that he might Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old American jailed there since November, out. But while chatting with reporters at the Beijing airport, he downplayed this.
“I'm just going to meet my friend Kim the marshal to start a new basketball league going,” he said. “I'm just trying to keep the communication job going.”
The Times notes that he told Reuters, "I’m not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae...I’m just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour.”