Former NBA bad boy Rodman is back in North Korea

"I'm just trying to open the door", the eccentric ex-Chicago Bulls power forward told reporters at Beijing airport before boarding his Air Koryo flight.

One major diplomatic development has occurred since Rodman landed in Pyongyang, however: North Korea has freed USA citizen Otto Warmbier, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for disrespecting Kim.

Approximately six weeks after his arrest - in March 2016 - the OH native was sentenced to 15 years hard labour.

However, new details from the Washington Post reveal that Warmbier's parents were told the 22-year-old was being medically evacuated while in a coma, which he's reportedly been in for more than a year. Whether that upswing will continue as Rodman makes public appearances in North Korea remains to be seen.

North Korean state media has posted nothing on either Warmbier or Dennis Rodman's visit.

There is no way of knowing yet whether the North Korean version of events is true, but the Warmbiers have been told their son had been in a coma the whole time.

In a tearful statement made before his trial, Warmbier told a gathering of reporters in Pyongyang he was offered a used vehicle worth $10,000 if he could get a propaganda banner and was also told that if he was detained and didn't return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.

"In no uncertain terms North Korea must explain the causes of his coma".

In previous situations when the USA government has wanted an American citizen released, at least one senior official has had to travel to Pyongyang in order to secure their release. While the aware of the current visit, Rodman is acting as a private citizen. Fred, Cindy, and the Warmbier family have been remarkably strong throughout this ordeal.

A source familiar with the government's efforts to free Warmbier says the State Department learned about the student's medical condition about a week ago.

"Rodman is in the unusual position of being an acquaintance of both President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un", NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai.

Before entering politics, Trump praised one of Rodman's 2013 trips to North Korea in an interview with Fox News.

"I have high confidence that's not the case but Dennis does know Trump and he does know Kim", Pinkston said, adding that "it's not a pre-planned thing, the White House, State Department calling him, saying "Take this envelope, say this thing". He said that over the past 18 months, Warmbier's family has "had to endure more than any family should have to bear".

There are three other Americans now being held in North Korea. He said Warmbier's sentence was "unnecessary and appalling". But with the USA leading a growing worldwide coalition determined to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile testing as well as threats against neightbors and Western countries, the Americans could be bargaining chips at best and human shields at worst, according to experts.

  • Zachary Reyes