Retired NBA star Dennis Rodman is in North Korea to meet leader Kim Jong-un for the second time this year.
Rodman told reporters that meeting “my friend Kim” was a part of his “basketball diplomacy tour”. Mr. Kim is an ardent basketball fan.
But he also said he would not be discussing the release of the imprisoned Korean-American Kenneth Bae with Mr. Kim.
North Korea cancelled a planned trip by a U.S. envoy last week that was to seek Bae’s release.
Last March Rodman spent time with Mr. Kim while filming a documentary in North Korea. He also visited the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, who played a game with members of North Korea’s Dream Team.
Rodman is the most high-profile American to meet Mr. Kim since he took over the hardline Communist state after his father’s death in 2011.
On Tuesday, Rodman told reporters in Beijing, China, “I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there.”
“I have not been promised anything. I am just going there as a friendly gesture.”
He answered, “I’m not going to talk about that,” when asked if he was going to discuss Kenneth Bae with Mr. Kim.
Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in May on charges of “hostile acts” against North Korea. He has been described as a Christian missionary and a tour operator.
Rodman came under criticism for his first trip to North Korea, which came at a time of escalating tension, with the North Korean regime threatening missile strikes against South Korea, Japan and the United States.
Rodman and Mr. Kim were pictured laughing and eating while watching a basketball all-star game. Image/Google Images