Sun, Jun 18, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Rodman returns from ‘really good’ North Korea trip

Reuters, BEIJING

Dennis Rodman, center, walks out of the arrivals gate at Beijing Capital International Airport yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Dennis Rodman yesterday arrived in Beijing after what he said was a “really good” five-day trip to North Korea.

Rodman, 56, said last week before departing for Pyongyang that he was trying to bring sports to the increasingly isolated nuclear-armed country, where he has previously met leader Kim Jong-un.

“Everybody’s going to be happy. It was a good day. It was a good trip. A really good trip,” Rodman said.

Wearing black clothing with the PotCoin logo — a cryptocurrency used by the legal marijuana industry — Rodman fended off questions from dozens of journalists at the arrival gate.

Asked repeatedly if he had met Kim, Rodman said: “You’ll find out.”

He also declined to answer questions about whether he had played a role in the release of Otto Warmbier, a US student who was returned home on the day of Rodman’s arrival suffering from brain damage and in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, after more than a year in detention in North Korea.

Tensions have escalated on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests and its vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland, presenting US President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security concern.

Rodman’s visits to North Korea in past years have fueled speculation that he could somehow facilitate a diplomatic breakthrough between Pyongyang and Washington.

The US Department of State has said Rodman was traveling as a private citizen.

Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some US politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

His earlier visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014 included a basketball game that he organized, an event chronicled in the documentary film Big Bang in Pyongyang, which featured Rodman singing Happy Birthday to Kim.

The US government has issued travel warnings to Americans against going to North Korea.

Rodman, nicknamed “The Worm” during his playing career and known for his tattoos, body piercings and multicolored hair, is considered one of the best defensive players and rebounders in NBA history.

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