Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea to visit his “friend,” authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un.
Rodman, who made a high-profile visit to the isolated country in February, landed again on Tuesday just days after Pyongyang rejected a visit by a U.S. envoy hoping to bring home an American missionary jailed in North Korea, the Associated Press reports.
The bombastic basketball player — known for his many tattoos, piercings and wild antics — declined to tell reporters whether he would seek the American missionary Kenneth Bae’s release before he boarded his plane. “I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that,” Rodman said.
Bae was arrested in November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what the regime called hostile acts against the state. Rodman once asked Kim Jung Un over Twitter to “do me a solid” and release Bae. But before this trip he said, “I’m not there to be a diplomat.”
Rodman first met Kim, who is reportedly a die-hard fan of the 1990s-era Chicago Bulls teams that Rodman played with, during a visit in February to promote the sport and film a Vice show. He has called Kim an “awesome guy” and suggested that “basketball diplomacy” could repair relations between the U.S. and North Korea.