US basketball star in North Korea to ‘open the door’
BEIJING: Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea yesterday, returning to the increasingly isolated nuclear-armed country where he has previously met leader Kim Jong Un.
Rodman was surrounded by journalists when he arrived at Beijing’s airport to catch a flight for the North Korean capital, which he said he was visiting as a private citizen.
“I’m just trying to open the door,” said Rodman, wearing a baseball cap with the logo of his trip’s sponsor, a crypto-currency provider for the legal marijuana industry. “My purpose is to to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea,” he said.
Rodman, 56, arrived in Pyongyang later yesterday for a five-day visit, received by North Korean officials at Pyongyang’s airport.
Rodman tweeted ahead of his trip: “I’m back,” adding he would “discuss my mission upon my return to the US”.
Tensions have escalated on the Korean peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, presenting US President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security worry.
Before Trump became president, Rodman appeared twice on his Celebrity Apprentice show and praised the real estate billionaire during last year’s election campaign.
“I am pretty much sure that he is happy with the fact that I am over here trying to accomplish something that we both need,” Rodman said, when asked if he had spoken with Trump. The flamboyant Rodman, who has called Kim “an awesome kid”. Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea. – Reuters
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea. PICTURE: AP