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It’s happening again.

On Thursday, former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea to meet his “friend” and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, just days after it was revealed the dictator executed his own uncle in a political purge.

But that didn’t stop Rodman. He’s in the country as part of a birthday celebration for the leader, who is bringing 12 ex-NBA players to Pyongyang for a Jan. 8 exhibition game.

Rodman has not yet announced the roster for the game. He is also expected to train North Korean basketball players during his several-day stay in Pyongyang and to meet with Kim, though he did not give any details about what his plans are. He said, however, that if after the 12 former NBA players go home they say “some really, really nice things, some really cool things about this country,” then he has done his job.

And basketball is all that matters. Rodman told the media that he can’t be concerned with the execution of Kim’s uncle Jang Song Thaek, because it has nothing to do with him.

“I can’t control what they do with their government, I can’t control what they say or how they do things here,” he said. “I’m just trying to come here as a sports figure and try to hope I can open the door for a lot of people in the country.”

“I’ve come over to see my friend, and people always give me a little hard time about me saying that,” said Rodman, who was given the red carpet treatment at the airport by Vice Sports Minister Son Kwang Ho and O Hun Ryong, secretary-general of the North Korean Basketball Association. “I’m very proud to say he’s my friend, because he hasn’t done anything to put a damper, to say any negative things about my country.”

Rodman and Kim have been “friends” since the basketball player traveled to the secretive state for the first time in February with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series produced by New York-based VICE television.

“North Korea has given me the opportunity to bring these players and their families over here, so people can actually see, so these players can actually see, that this country is actually not as bad as people project it to be in the media,” he said.

Maybe Rodman is on to something here. Is basketball the key to better relations with North Korea?

SOURCE: Chron | VIDEO SOURCE: News, Inc.