SEOUL – Former basketball star Dennis Rodman concluded on Saturday his five-day visit to North Korea.
Ahead of his arrival at Beijing’s international airport, the athlete shared a photo of himself on Twitter wearing a t-shirt with the words “Ambassador Rodman” and “I come in peace.”
Before leaving for Pyongyang, Rodman recorded a video in which he said his mission was to try to “open doors” between the United States and North Korea.
Since then, neither he nor the North Korean regime have offered further details of the visit.
The trip came at a time of heightened tension between Pyongyang and Washington, due to repeated weapons tests by the North Korean regime.
The US Department of State noted that Rodman travelled to the country as a private citizen and not in an official capacity, while media reports have speculated that the former NBA player was met by lower-level officials from the Pyongyang administration than on previous visits.
Rodman is one of few Americans to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and has visited the country four times since 2013.
He is also believed to have a good relationship with President Donald Trump, who he endorsed during the US presidential election campaign.
“I’m sure he’s pretty much happy with the fact that I’m over here trying to accomplish something that we both need,” Rodman told reporters in Beijing prior to his departure for Pyongyang.
He did not confirm whether Trump knew beforehand about the visit, which was sponsored by Potcoin, a cryptocurrency for the legal marijuana industry.
A few hours after his arrival in North Korea, the regime freed American student Otto Warmbier, who had been detained for 17 months in the Asian country and is now in a coma.
Rodman, 56, has described past trips to North Korea as “basketball diplomacy,” but has been widely criticized for his friendship with the leader of the totalitarian regime.
His last visit was in January 2014, when he and a group of former NBA players participated in an exhibition match, apparently organized as a birthday gift for Kim Jong-un.