Basketball legend Dennis Rodman is expected to arrive in North Korea Tuesday, amid the tense relation the US and North Korea share due to North Korea’s launching missiles and arresting four American citizens.
North Korean officials confirmed that Pyongyang is Rodman’s first destination, North Korea’s capital, on Tuesday. A senior US official also asserted that Rodman is to visit North Korea in an arranged, but not official trip, according to CNN.
According to CNN, the basketball player refused to answer the CNN journalists’ questions and inquiries at Beijing International Airport, the network said.
This is not the first time for Rodman to visit North Korea; he purportedly visited North Korea at least four times. The last time he hit the country was in 2014 when he and former NBA All-Stars participated in an exhibition game as a “birthday present” for the North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. It is believed that the North Korea leader is a huge fan of the mid-1990s Chicago Bulls.
After backlashes from people and media, Rodman said that his trips are “basketball diplomacy” and called them a “great idea for the world,” according to CNN. Nonetheless, Rodman has been criticised for turning a blind eye to North Korea’s human rights violations, including the case of American citizen Kenneth Bae, who was jailed and sentenced to forced labour for allegedly orchestrating to carry out a coup against the North Korean government.
In an interview in 2014, Rodman was likely to regret planning trips that raised controversy.
“If you don’t ever want me to go back there again, I won’t go back.” Rodman said to ESPN in March. “If I put anyone in danger, I apologize. I apologize to them on TV, having drinks and stuff like that, and saying stuff that some people thought was way out of line.”
“I wish they understood the whole purpose of why I went to North Korea.” said Rodman. “I wish they did.”