Health Care

Ex-NBA star Rodman set to arrive in N. Korea

Ex-NBA star Rodman set to arrive in N. Korea

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is reportedly on his way to visit North Korea and is expected to land in the country on Tuesday. Rodman met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on previous trips to Pyongyang.

Representatives for Rodman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A senior USA official said the State Department was aware Rodman was planning to travel to North Korea, but stressed he is not there in any official capacity.

He won five league championships with Detroit and Chicago and is a member of basketball's Hall of Fame.

Wearing sunglasses and a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency, Rodman passed through immigration at Beijing airport, from where he is expected to fly to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

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Rodman is one of the only Americans to have met Kim Jong Un and will arrive at a time of high tension between North Korea and the USA as Pyongyang seeks to expand its nuclear weapons program.

CNN reports that two officials in North Korean confirmed that Rodman is supposed to land on Tuesday.

Kim Jong Un, who briefly attended boarding school in Switzerland, reportedly is a fan of the National Basketball Association, including the Chicago Bulls teams that Rodman played on in the late 1990s.

Rodman's trip is at least his fifth to North Korea, according to the NK News website. In February 2013, when North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, Kim Jong Un invited Rodman to watch a basketball game. On that trip, Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to dictator Kim Jong Un, who Rodman referred to as his "best friend". He spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry had not issued a formal statement. Rodman also has a relationship with Donald Trump after appearing on "Celebrity Apprentice" in multiple seasons and endorsed him for president in 2015. North Korea is also detaining several US citizens.