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Dennis Rodman will go back to North Korea; other ex-NBA players to follow

By Holly Yan and Steve Forrest, CNN
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 0748 GMT (1548 HKT)
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman watches a basketball game with Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju in Pyongyang, North Korea in February.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman watches a basketball game with Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju in Pyongyang, North Korea in February.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The former pro basketball star will help train a North Korean team later this month
  • That team will play an exhibition game against ex-NBA players, a sponsor says
  • It's unclear whether Rodman will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
  • Rodman has said he is Kim's "friend for life"

(CNN) -- Seems like Dennis Rodman can't get enough of North Korea.

The retired basketball star is headed to the reclusive country for the third time on December 18. He'll spend several days helping train the North Korean basketball team, which will play at least one exhibition game against former NBA players in January, according to Paddy Power, the UK-based online betting company sponsoring Rodman's trip.

The heavily pierced and tattooed icon will be traveling with a documentary crew, Paddy Power spokesman Rory Scott said.

Rodman's hoop dreams for North Korea
Rodman on defense over North Korea visit
Dennis Rodman to see 'my friend Kim'

But it's not clear whether Rodman, 52, will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom Rodman calls "a very good guy" -- despite international condemnation of the country's human rights record.

"You have a friend for life," Rodman told Kim after the two men sat next to each other watching an unusual basketball exhibition in Pyongyang in February.

Rodman makes another trip to North Korea

Even though Rodman has made very clear he is not an official diplomat between the United States and North Korea, he said he believes in "basketball diplomacy."

"I'm not a politician," he tweeted. "Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story."

Scott said the names of the former NBA players Rodman has drafted to play in January will be released sometime next week.

Opinion: Rodman just a toy for N. Korea's Kim

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