Former NBA Player Dennis Rodman Makes Second Trip to North Korea

Retired National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea days after the North rejected a visit by a U.S. envoy seeking the release of a jailed American.

Rodman’s arrival today was announced in a one-sentence statement carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency. During a stop in Beijing, Rodman, 52, said he just wanted to see North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he called “my friend,” according to The Associated Press.

The trip comes after the North revoked an invitation for a visit by Robert King, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy on North Korean human rights, to negotiate the release of tour operator Kenneth Bae, who has been held since November. North Korea said it canceled King’s invitation over U.S. military drills with the South.

Rodman declined to say whether he would seek Bae’s release, according to AP. He visited Pyongyang in February with the Harlem Globetrotters in a trip orchestrated by VICE, a Brooklyn, New York-based media company.

Bae is serving a sentence of 15 years of hard labor for alleged hostile acts against the country. The U.S. is concerned about Bae’s health and urges North Korea to release him on humanitarian grounds, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in an earlier e-mailed statement.

Rodman won five NBA championships and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. A seven-time NBA rebounding champion, Rodman is known for his tattoos, multicolored hair, piercings and outlandish behavior, such as competing in professional wrestling events.

— With assistance by Sam Kim

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