Dennis Rodman is heading to North Korea for a five-day visit, where he will train the national basketball team.
The former basketball player has previously described his visits as “basketball diplomacy”, and called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un his “friend for life”.
The US State Department has stressed that Dennis Rodman is not representing the US government on this trip.
The visit comes weeks after Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Sung-taek was executed.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing before heading to North Korea, Dennis Rodman said politics had “nothing to do with [him]”.
“I’m just going over there to do a basketball game and have some fun,” he told Reuters news agency.
Organizers of the trip say that Dennis Rodman will also arrange a friendship basketball match between North Korea and a group of former NBA players on January 8, to mark Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
Dennis Rodman remains the most high-profile American to meet Kim Jong-un since the leader took over after his father died in 2011.
He said that he spent time with Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju during his last visit in September, and said Kim had a baby daughter called Ju-ae.
US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday: “Dennis Rodman is not a representative of the US government in his trip to North Korea.”
“We need to focus on what’s really important here when it comes to North Korea… the brutality of the North Korean regime he’s going to meet.”
American citizen Kenneth Bae (known in North Korea as Pae Jun-ho) is detained in North Korea after being arrested in November 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in May.
Dennis Rodman previously rejected calls to lobby for Kenneth Bae’s release.
“That’s not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae,” Dennis Rodman told reporters after his September visit.
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