Former NBA player Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea

Lance Nichols
June 14, 2017

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) watches a basketball game between former U.S. NBA basketball players and North Korean players of the Hwaebul team of the DPRK with Dennis Rodman (R) at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang January 9, 2014. He said he believes Trump would be happy with his trip.

This combination of file photos shows former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang, North Korea on December 20, 2013, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017.

Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters in Tokyo that the U.S. has issued travel warnings to Americans suggesting they not travel to North Korea for their own safety.

"I'm really looking forward to spending time with the wonderful people of North Korea and of course, visiting with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un", Rodman is quoted as having said in the statement.

Rodman still went through with a plan to take a group of retired National Basketball Association players to North Korea for an exhibition game, which he called a "birthday present" for his "best friend" Kim.

Four Americans are now being detained in North Korea.

"They were looking at ways to do that and this was one of the instruments they were looking at, and the foreign ministry thought it was advisable to formally extend an invitation", he told AFP.

The fact that Rodman was going for such a short period of time raised expectations that he might be going to free the four Americans being held by North Korea.

North Korea's state media has yet to release a report on Rodman's visit.

The retired athlete was a former contestant on U.S. President Donald Trump's reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice", which Trump hosted before running for office, and went on to endorse Trump during election season.

His entourage included Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.

"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.

Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea with another offbeat sponsor. Not only is there the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles shadowing nearly all of Southeast Asia, the reclusive country is now detaining four American citizens on suspicion of "hostile acts" against the regime.

Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, brought the older Kim a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan during a visit in 2000.

In comments carried by worldwide media and in his first public statement on the visit, he did, however, say he would try to "make something happen" regarding the four detained men, while stressing that he was visiting North Korea as a private citizen and not at the behest of the State Department.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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