Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea this past Tuesday and said he is “just trying to open a door” on a mission he thinks may get support.
Rodman talked to reporters briefly before his flight from Beijing to Pyongyang. Asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, he 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.”
President Trump has praised Rodman’s previous visits to North Korea.
“Dennis is not a stupid guy,” Trump said. “He’s smart in many ways, he’s very street wise.”
The 56-year-old Rodman, who won five NBA championships as a player with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, previously traveled to North Korea in January 2014. On that trip, Rodman sang “Happy Birthday” to Dictator Kim Jong Un, who Rodman referred to as his “best friend.”
Kim Jong Un is a fan of the NBA, especially the Chicago Bulls teams that Rodman played on in the late 1990s, reports say.
Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is “not my purpose right now.”
A senior Trump administration official told Fox News on Monday that Rodman was travelling as a “private citizen.”
“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,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.