Rodman says he's going to NKorea to open a door

Nick Mcbride
June 14, 2017

A senior USA official said the State Department was aware Rodman was scheduled to travel to the North, but stressed he would not be there in any official capacity, according to CNN.

Sporting a baseball cap, sunglasses, multiple facial piercings and a black t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of sponsor PotCoin - a cryptocurrency for the legal cannabis industry - Rodman posted a photo of himself on Twitter smiling and waving his ticket on the North's flag carrier Air Koryo. The basketball Hall-of-Famer said he is "just trying to open a door" on a mission he thinks may get support.

Prince Marketing Group, which represents Rodman, did not comment on any PotCoin sponsorship in a statement regarding Rodman's trip to North Korea.

"But one thing we know is that Trump is transactional", one official told the newspaper.

Rodman was a cast member on two seasons of Mr Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.

Former NBA player Charles Smith said at the time that he felt remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Rodman because the event was dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman's own comments. "My goal is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea".

Rodman is on his way to the reclusive state to again meet leader Kim Jong Un, who he previously called "an awesome kid".

Nicknamed "the Worm", Rodman won two championships with the Detroit Pistons and three with the Chicago Bulls.

One State Department source also told CNN that Rodman's visit was completely unrelated to Warmier's release.

The former basketball star has travelled to North Korea for a secret project.

He represented a number of National Basketball Association teams during his playing career including the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. He was heavily criticized in the U.S. for not bringing up the case of Kenneth Bae, an American imprisoned on charges of "hostile acts" who spent 735 days in North Korean custody before being released in 2014.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the State Department had secured Mr Warmbier's release at the direction of the president. Increasing pressure on the North will be the first topic for next week's high-level talks between the U.S. and China, he said.

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Rodman is heading to North Korea later Tuesday from Beijing. The unlikely pair ended the evening with drinks and dining on sushi.

Officials in former President Barack Obama's administration stated they would have prevented Rodman from traveling to North Korea if they had the authority to do so.

Tillerson said during the Tuesday statement that the State Department is continuing to "have discussions" with North Korea about the release of other three American citizens who are jailed there.

The US state department said it is aware of his visit. "We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety". He traveled to North Korea for the first time in February 2013 with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series produced by VICE television. In March, 2016 Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in the country for stealing a propaganda poster. He had served about 17-months of a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts. "Mr. Warmbier is en route to the USA where he will be reunited with his family".

While in North Korea, the 22-year-old contracted botulism and is in "bad shape" but is now en route back to the United States, a source close to the family revealed to CNN.

"We learned of (his coma) only one week ago", the family's statement said. "Otto should have been released from the start", said US Sen.

North Korea believes its missile program is the only way to deter Washington from trying to overthrow the Kim regime.

"Apparently our message is not being conveyed properly due to the circumstances that are much bigger than us", Smith told The Associated Press before the exhibition game.

North Korea announced Warmbier's arrest in late January 2016, saying he committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the USA government and under its manipulation".

Warmbier is a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati.

Other reports by VgToday

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