Dennis Rodman would, on the surface, seem to be the most unlikely former NBA player to be on a diplomatic mission abroad. However, the controversial retired power forward is now reportedly headed back to North Korea on Tuesday.
CNN brings word that Rodman, who has reportedly visited Pyongyang “at least four times” in the past, was seen at the Beijing International Airport, presumably on his way to North Korea. While the mission of his reported visit is unclear, Rodman is one of only a small number of Americans that have met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the past and this unlikely friendship has been a topic of conversation in the past.
Beyond that, there is the wrinkle of President Donald Trump and his relationship with Rodman. While hosting NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, Trump fired Rodman under high-profile circumstances, via Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine.
The report from CNN references significant changes in relations between the U.S. and North Korea since Rodman’s last visit, though, and that adds another element to the reported trip. On a trip in 2014, Rodman was captured singing “Happy Birthday” to Kim Jong-un, which was not well received in some corners of his home country.
Further details are likely to emerge on Rodman and his trip to North Korea but this is, at the very least, an odd situation and less than ideal timing given the relationship between the two countries at the current moment. It’s also odd because Dennis Rodman is something of a foreign ambassador to North Korea at this point, which… well, let’s just say no one saw that coming.