Ex-NBA star Rodman set to arrive in N. Korea

Ex-NBA star Rodman set to arrive in N. Korea

Two North Korean officials further confirmed to CNN host Will Ripley, now in Pyongyang, that Rodman would be arriving sometime Tuesday. North Korea on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, is expecting another visit by Rodman, who has made several trips to the country but has been criticized for insensitive comments and for regaling leader Kim Jong Un with "Happy Birthday" in 2014.

Rodman's latest trip comes also less than four months after he appeared at the prestigious West Point military academy in the USA to talk about his personal interactions with the North Korean leader.

Rodman is one of the only Americans to have met Kim Jong Un and will arrive at a time of high tension between North Korea and the U.S. as Pyongyang seeks to expand its nuclear weapons program.

He has previously described his trips - including one in 2013 with the Harlem Globetrotters - as "basketball diplomacy" but has been roundly criticised for failing to raise human rights issues or the plight of United States missionary Kenneth Bae, who was detained at the time.

Mr Rodman met the despotic leader on previous trips to Pyongyang and referred to the dictator as "an awesome kid".

Just last month, Rodman said Kim Jong Un was a "friend for life."

That trip generated a string of negative headlines and an outburst from Rodman during the CNN interview.

"And I think Kenneth Bae was on a boat that day but something happened so I think that was an agreement right there that he was going to release Kenneth Bae on the boat to me and bring him back to America", he recalled.

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.

North Korea has become an increasing threat to the U.S. during Trump's time in the White House.

North Korea has fired 16 ballistic missiles this year.

During a check of Kim's belongings, police found four bundles of USA currency, mostly in mint condition, in a black bag.

Kim's passion for basketball was likely inherited from his father, Kim Jong Il, and has been a rare area of common ground for the two nations. Rodman said on Twitter as he arrived.

On his first trip to North Korea, Rodman was accompanied by members of the Harlem Globetrotters and a crew from VICE News.

Speaking in 2014, he said: "It's about trying to bridge a gap to a country that people say is so bad". But another was "strictly about the game and for the love of basketball".