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Dennis Rodman Returns to North Korea

Dennis Rodman is returning to North Korea after three years.

The controversial basketball star said he is travelling as a private citizen.

Dennis Rodman told reporters at Beijing airport, en route to North Korea: “I’m just trying to open the door.”

The former NBA star made headlines after befriending North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on previous trips to Pyongyang in 2013 and 2014. Dennis Rodman has called Kim Jong-un his “friend for life”.

The US state department said it is aware of Dennis Rodman’s visit.

Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon said, according to Reuters: “We wish him well. But we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety.”

Dennis Rodman told reporters: “My purpose is to actually see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that’s the main thing.”

Image source Wikimedia

It is unclear whether the former NBA player will also bring up the detention of US citizens in the country.

The US and North Korean tensions have intensified under President Donald Trump.

However, President Trump has also said he would be “honored” to meet Kim Jong-un, in the right circumstances.

Speaking at the airport on June 13, Dennis Rodman said: “I am pretty much sure that he [President Trump] is happy with the fact that I am over here trying to accomplish something that we both need.”

When asked about the former Chicago Bulls star ‘s North Korea visits in 2013, Donald Trump told Fox News: “You look at the world, the world is blowing up around us. Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have.”

Dennis Rodman had been a contestant on Donald Trump’s reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice that same year.

In 2014, Donald Trump flatly dismissed rumors that the pair might travel to North Korea together.

Dennis Rodman also once encouraged former President Barack Obama to “pick up the phone and call” Kim Jong-un, emphasizing that the two leaders both liked basketball.

His trips have been referred to as “basketball diplomacy” in the US press.

In 2014, Dennis Rodman told luxury lifestyle magazine DuJour he had approached the US government for support but was rejected.

He has previously broken down in tears during TV interviews, saying he has had death threats over his trips, which have been condemned by human rights activists.

Although at one point he did tweet Kim Jong-un to ask if he would “do me a solid and let Kenneth Bae loose” – referring to a US-Korean missionary who served two years in prison for trying to overthrow the government.

Kenneth Bae later thanked Dennis Rodman for raising public awareness of his case.

On June 13, Dennis Rodman tweeted that his latest trip was being sponsored by a company that provides digital currency for the marijuana industry. He wore fully branded clothes to the airport.

A previous trip to North Korea was sponsored by a betting company.