Dennis Rodman back in North Korea this week

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Dennis Rodman back in North Korea this week
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2013, file photo, former basketball player Dennis Rodman waves during a news conference to promote a Japanese cable network?s coverage of the upcoming NBA season, in Tokyo The former Chicago Bulls player's Rodman-themed vodka, that was consumed with friend and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is set to debut Thursday, Nov. 21. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
In this image from video, former NBA star Dennis Rodman, left, is greeted by Son Kwang Ho, vice-chairman of North Korea's Olympic Committee, at Pyongyang airport, North Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Rodman landed Tuesday in North Korea and said he plans to hang out with authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, have a good time and maybe bridge some cultural gaps ? but not be a diplomat. (AP Photo/AP Video)
This undated publicity image released by HBO shows former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman, right, with North Korea's Kim Jong Un at a basketball game from an episode of the documentary series "Vice." The season final episode will air on on June 14 at 11 p.m. EST on HBO. (AP Photo/Vice.com via HBO)
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman walks at the Pyongyang Airport before he leaves North Korea Friday, March 1, 2013. Rodman hung out with North Korea's Kim Jong Un during his improbable journey to Pyongyang, watching the Harlem Globetrotters with the leader and later drinking and dining on sushi with him.(AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Social activist Rocky Twyman holds a sign calling for former basketball star Dennis Rodman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and for peace in North Korea in front of the White House in Washington,DC on March 11, 2013. A US official last week rejected the joking suggestion that the flamboyant basketball star be made ambassador to North Korea, after his highly-watched trip to the isolated state. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman (C) shows pictures from his trip to North Korea to members of the media as he arrives at Beijing International Airport on September 7, 2013. Rodman returned to China from Pyongyang on September 7 after a five-day trip when he met Kim Jong-Un, but without jailed American Kenneth Bae. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - Retired basketball star Dennis Rodman will return to North Korea for a third time on Thursday despite political tension surrounding the execution of leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, trip organizers said.

"It's certainly safe, even when there is a bit of disruption like there is now - a bit of trouble or chaos - there's even more need for cultural or sporting exchanges," said Rory Scott, a spokesman for Irish bookmakers Paddy Power, which has arranged the trip.

Rodman has visited Pyongyang on two other occasions, during which he spent time dining as a guest of Kim Jong Un, with whom he says he has a genuine friendship.

In a rare admission of factionalism within the North Korean government, Jang Song Thaek was purged and then executed last week - a period South Korean President Park Geun-hye described as a "reign of terror".

Rodman is expected to provide North Korea's national basketball team with four days of training. He also intends to return to Pyongyang in January with a team of fellow former National Basketball Association stars to hold basketball on Kim Jong Un's birthday.

"This being is orchestrated under the guise of sport," Scott said. "Dennis is going to spend a couple of days training the North Korean team to get them ship shape for the January match."

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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