Dennis Rodman to Train North Korea's Basketball Team

The Worm plans on staging exhibition games for the dictator.

Posted: 09/09/2013 02:01 PM EDT

File this under just plain weird.

Just days after returning from North Korea, Dennis Rodman announced today that he will coach North Korea's basketball team for the 2016 Olympics. He also plans to stage two exhibition games in January and will return to the country in December to choose players for the games. He hopes to bring former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone with him. 

Rodman hopes his form of "basketball diplomacy" will help mend the fractious relations between the U.S. and North Korea.

"Why North Korea? It'll open doors," Rodman said during the news conference.

Rodman has referred to his BFF Kim Jong-un as "an awesome guy" and a good "friend." Human rights observers say Kim is a paranoid dictator who has killed scores of his own people. 

This is the Worm's second visit to Pyongyang in six months. He first visited in March on a trip with Vice magazine. That trip drew harsh criticism from the U.S. government and human rights observers.

Writes the Associated Press:

Though saying he didn't want to discuss politics, Rodman raised his voice when answering a questioner about Kim's human rights record and portrayed himself as the person who could make outsiders see the young leader as different than his father and grandfather.

"He has to do his job but he's a very good guy," Rodman said.

"If he wanted to bomb anybody in the world, he would have done it."

Instead, Rodman had harder words for Obama, whom he spoke angrily of while talking to reporters last week after his trip. He talked around a question about American citizen and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what Pyongyang described as hostile acts against the state. Kim has the power to grant special pardons under the North's constitution.

Rodman said lobbying for the release of a prisoner wasn't his job, blaming the president for not reaching out to ease tensions between the countries.

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(Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo)