Former NBA Hall of Famer Heading Back to North Korea

Former NBA Hall of Famer Heading Back to North Korea

Former NBA Hall of Famer Heading Back to North Korea

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is slated to arrive in North Korea on Tuesday for his fifth visit amidst mounting tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, the media reported.

Quoting Malaysian investigation officials, the Japanese daily said on Sunday that the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, may have been paid for information.

Rodman has visited North Korea at least four times to engage in what he terms "basketball diplomacy".

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

CNN reports that a senior US official said the State Department knows that Rodman is headed to North Korea but is not there on behalf of the country.

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

Kim Jong-nam is believed to have met the U.S. citizen for two hours at a hotel in Malaysia and picked up the money while in the country, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials from the country's investigation authorities.

Four Americans are also being held in North Korea, including 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier, who has been sentenced to 15 years' hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda banner.

Asked if he would talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about several Americans detained there, he said "that's not my objective right now".

During a visit in 2014, the eccentric five-time National Basketball Association champion sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim Jong Un at a Pyongyang stadium and then walked forward and bowed to the hardline leader. North Korea is also detaining several USA citizens.

Rodman, who said his friendship with the notorious dictator is about sports, not about politics, added that both Kim and Trump have expressed mutual respect for one another in the past. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry had not issued a formal statement.

Even so, Rodman endorsed Trump for president in a tweet in 2015, calling him a "great friend for many years".

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