Matt Cooper travels to North Korea with Dennis Rodman for Kim celebration
Published 07/01/2014 | 02:30
BROADCASTER Matt Cooper is in North Korea to attend a basketball match marking dictator Kim Jong-Un's birthday.
The Today FM presenter has travelled to the East Asian country with former NBA player Dennis Rodman and a squad of a dozen former basketball stars.
The Irish Independent understands Mr Cooper struck up an acquaintance with Rodman during an interview in London last September and is now travelling as his guest.
He arrived in Pyongyang yesterday after travelling through Beijing. While passing through China, Rodman told reporters that Kim was his "friend" and he "loves" him.
Around 10,000 people are expected to attend the game between the North Korean international team and a selection of American players on the leader's 31st birthday, which is tomorrow.
Irish bookmakers Paddy Power were originally due to be the title sponsor of the game but pulled out after Kim's pre-Christmas 'purge' of anti-Party people, including his uncle.
North Korea is widely accepted to have the worst human rights record in the world.
Ken Robertson of Paddy Power told the Irish Independent that the bookmaker had made a mistake getting involved in the project.
"In hindsight we got it wrong," he said.
It is not clear whether Mr Cooper will get a face-to-face meeting with Mr Kim but he will be at the game as a guest of Rodman.
A Today FM spokesperson stressed that Mr Cooper was travelling in an "independent capacity" and not on a work assignment for the broadcaster.