By Ashley Dunkak

Former Piston Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea, again practicing what he has termed “basketball diplomacy.”

Apparently, Rodman is not bothered by North Korea’s long history of human rights violations, its frequent threats against the United States and the fact that the country is still holding Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae as a hostage.

At the very least, those transgressions apparently do not bother Rodman enough to keep from referring to dictator Kim Jong Un as a “friend” and an “awesome guy.” He said he is not trying to negotiate the release of Bae but is merely going to visit his friend and talk basketball.

Rodman’s earlier trip was sponsored by Vice Media, an organization that specializes in documentaries, and this trip is being bankrolled by Paddy Power, an Irish gambling organization.

Rodman has had a lifetime of ups and downs and colorful behavior on and off the court, including induction into the basketball Hall of Fame, three NBA championships, stints as Madonna’s boy toy and Carmen Electra’s husband. He took pop culture center stage in 1996 when he dressed as a bride in full makeup, a poufy white dress and veil to promote his book.

Not one to shun the spotlight, Rodman was most recently featured on “Celebrity Rehab,” where his battles with alcohol were outlined; His legal troubles were highlighted when he was ordered in late 2012 to pay $500,000 in back child support to an ex.

He’s apparently leaving his troubles behind in North Korea, where he told USA Today he plans to “have a good time and meet new people.”


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