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rodman's big bang

Matt Cooper was genuinely worried the North Koreans might 'get rid of' him

“If Rodman started shouting ‘get rid of me’ or something, they’d have gotten rid of me.”

BROADCASTER MATT COOPER has been speaking about his “terrifying encounter” with basketball star Dennis Rodman during their bizarre 2014 trip to North Korea.

The Today FM presenter says the troubled former NBA star “went for him” during a formal dinner attended by government officials.

Considering the location of the encounter, he says he was worried he might have been taken away and detained by the regime, at Rodman’s say-so.


Big Bang in Pyongyang 

Cooper, as you may recall, travelled to the notoriously secretive totalitarian state in January of last year to write a book about the visit – which culminated in an exhibition game featuring Rodman and other former basketball stars.

He and Rodman were “getting on fine” before the start of the visit, he said. He had been introduced to him as “the reporter who was going to write the story of the trip”.

“Everything was going well in Beijing Airport, everything was  fine at the start in Pyongyang,” Cooper told Newstalk Breakfast today. 

“But on the very first night in Pyongyang there was a special state function for us.

We were all brought – the travelling party, which was the team and coaches, the documentary crew, my business partner Ciaran O’Hara and myself – were brought to this dinner.


Rodman, he said was “getting more and more drunk” and started singing and dancing in front of the officials.

Then he came down to my table and started screaming about ‘why are you writing a book, man? You don’t know shit about North Korea, why are you writing a book?’.

As Rodman “went for” him the whole room descended into silence, he said.

Cooper said it was a “terrifying experience”.

He explained:

I didn’t think he was going to hit me – but that actually wasn’t really what worried me, what worried me was how the North Koreans were going to react.

It had only been a few weeks since Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle, he said.

That had only happened a fortnight before we travelled – and this country is so troubled and so mad and they have detained so many people that have come in that… Yeah, if Rodman started shouting ‘get rid of me’ or something, they’d have gotten rid of me.

Deadline Hollywood / YouTube

The documentary covering the visit – Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang - was picked up by broadcaster Showtime in the US, and is set to be screened at five Irish cinemas tomorrow night.

It premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival to rave reviews at the start of the year, while the magazine Variety described it as “deftly constructed, consistently engrossing and frequently flat-out-hilarious”.

The book Cooper was supposed to write never happened, he said (it might still see the light of day, but he got side-tracked by a biography of Tony O’Reilly which will be out later this year).

Note: The film is being screened at Omniplex cinemas in Rathmines, Cork, Carlow Waterford and Limerick. Cooper will be conducting a Q&A in Rathmines too. 

Read: Here’s Dennis Rodman singing ‘Happy Birthday’…to Kim Jong-Un…in North Korea

Read: Today FM’s Matt Cooper is in North Korea with Dennis Rodman

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