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Cooper returns from North Korea trip

BROADCASTER Matt Cooper is expected to fly home today after travelling to North Korea with basketball legend Dennis Rodman.

The Today FM presenter was not visible in any photos released from a game between former NBA stars and the North Korean national team that marked dictator Kim Jong-Un's 31st birthday.

However, he is understood to have been a guest of former NBA star Rodman, who has sparked controversy by declaring Kim his "best friend".

Rodman led the 14,000 crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday to Kim before the game.

His claim that he was engaging in "basketball diplomacy" has been described as naive and laughable in the US.

Cooper, who presents The Last Word on Today FM, did not speak publicly about the reasons for his trip, but a station spokesperson has said he was travelling in a personal capacity.

North Korea's poor human rights record and its threats to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and the US have kept it a pariah state.

Meanwhile, Rodman (52) has apologised for comments about captive American missionary Kenneth Bae.

"I want to apologise," he said. "I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families.

"My dream of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It's not an excuse, but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed.

Rodman has been slammed for not using his influence with Kim to help free Bae, the missionary in poor health who is being detained for "anti-state" crimes.

On CNN on Tuesday, Rodman implied Bae was at fault.

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, said: "Here's somebody who is in a position to do some good for Kenneth and refuses to do so."

hnews@herald.ie


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