Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for the first time since Donald Trump’s presidency, as reported by Fox News. The former N.B.A. star has been one of the United States’ most unlikely links to North Korea. Rodman’s trip was sponsored by Potcoin, a cryptocurrency which processes payments from weed dispensaries.
“Rodman is in the very rare position to be able to claim longtime friendships with both the Supreme Leader of North Korea, as well as with the current president of the United States.”
Rodman spoke briefly to reporters before his flight from Beijing to Pyongyang. The basketball Hall-of-Famer said he is “just trying to open a door” on a mission he thinks may get support. When asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, Rodman said, “Well, I’m pretty sure he’s pretty much happy with the fact that I’m over here trying to accomplish something that we both need.”
Though many have criticized Rodman, President Donald Trump has praised Rodman’s previous visits to North Korea in 2013.
Trump told Fox & Friends,“Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have,” after one of Rodman’s trips. It was this same year, that Dennis Rodman appeared as a contestant on the NBC show, Celebrity Apprentice. Trump added,
“Dennis is not a stupid guy… He’s smart in many ways, he’s very street wise.”
— VICE (@VICE) June 13, 2017
Rodman had previously traveled to North Korea in January of 2014. It was on this trip that the 56-year-old Rodman sang “Happy Birthday” to Dictator Kim Jong Un. Rodman later referred to Kim Jong Un as his “best friend.”
Dennis Rodman has won five NBA championships while playing for the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls.
Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters visited the rogue state and took part in a pickup game that Rodman called, “Basketball Diplomacy.” North Korea’s Supreme Leader is reported to be a major basketball fan. In particular, Kim Jong Un is said to have an interest in the Chicago Bulls team that Rodman played on in the late 1990’s.
Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea, was included in his entourage.
In regards to the Americans currently detained by North Korea, Rodman stated, “not my purpose right now.”
A senior Trump administration official reported to Fox News on Monday that Rodman was traveling as a “private citizen.” Thomas Shannon, U.S. Undersecretary of State, discussed Rodman’s visit to reporters following a discussion on the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.
“We are aware of his visit. We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety.”
North Korea has tested four new missile systems this year and could have a working nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile in the following years.
It was previously reported that the country is also holding four Americans for various alleged crimes.
However, it was reported today that Kim Jong Un has released one American citizen, University of Virginia college student, Otto Warmbier. The American college student has been released after more than 17 months in detention in North Korea but has been in a coma for over a year, according to his parents.
Otto allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda banner from a restricted area of his hotel at the request of an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church.
While in North Korea, the 22-year-old contracted botulism and is in “bad shape” but is currently en route back to the United States, a source close to the family revealed to CNN.
The parents of Otto, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, said in a statement that their son has been in a coma since March of 2016. Otto Warmbier’s parents learned of his sons’ medical condition just one week ago.
“Otto has left North Korea. He is on Medivac flight on his way home. Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016. We learned of this only one week ago.”
Cindy and Fred Warmbier denounced North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and his regime.
“We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea. We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who love him.”
Warmbier was detained in January of 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while he was on his way home. His parents say the University of Virginia student had been on a tour of the reclusive country.
North Korean authorities claim that they have security footage of Otto trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from the walls of his Pyongyang hotel, according to CNN.
Warmbier was found guilty and sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years hard labor. Otto’s sentencing was the last time he was seen by the public.
[Featured Image by Mark Schiefelbein/AP Images]