Dennis Rodman in North Korea again for 'basketball diplomacy'
- Author: Zachary Reyes Jun 14, 2017,
Jun 14, 2017, 3:50
"My goal is to actually to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that's the main thing", said Rodman, who wore his familiar facial piercings and was escorted through customs and immigration by two handlers.
"I'm pretty sure he's happy at the fact I'm over here trying to accomplish something we both need", Rodman said when reporters asked him if the president knew he was making a trip to North Korea.
Rodman's 2013 trip came just two weeks after North Korea conducted the first of three underground nuclear tests it has done under the rule of Kim, who is openly pursuing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the USA mainland.
Basketball legend Dennis Rodman is expected to arrive in North Korea Tuesday, amid the tense relation the United States and North Korea share due to North Korea's launching missiles and arresting four American citizens. The company bills itself as a digital crypto-currency provider for the legal marijuana industry. The family of Otto Warmbier said he was in a coma and was on a Medivac flight home.
Mr Warmbier was on a New Year's Eve tour in North Korea, en route to Hong Kong, where he was to do a January study-abroad trip last year. "We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters.
The White House says a US envoy met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway last month as part of efforts to win freedom for Americans held by Pyongyang. Rodman later addressed Kim before a crowd of thousands, telling him, "You have a friend for life", a VICE spokesman said then.
Freeing Warmbier could signal a conciliatory tone by Pyongyang toward Washington amid intensifying pressure from the United States over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, the Korea Times reported Tuesday.
"Rodman's assertion that Trump would approve of a new round of "basketball diplomacy" seems at odds with the extra pressure Washington has piled on the regime", added Time.
Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he made a decision to go to North Korea with a tour group.
- South Korean-born US citizen Kim Dong Chul, who was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage.
Rodman appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2013, when Trump's children Eric and Ivanka were also judges on the show.
The Stalinist regime rarely engages Americans, and Rodman's personal relationship with "Supreme Leader" Kim makes him a valuable asset when it comes to painting a fuller picture of the USA adversary's profile.
Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial in North Korea's Supreme Court.
He has previously made at least five trips to Pyongyang, and has described Kim as an "awesome kid" and "not that bad".