Former NBA star Dennis Rodman and a group of basketball players arrived in North Korea on Monday to participate in a basketball game for Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
This is Rodman’s fourth trip to the country since last February, when he met with the North Korean leader after traveling to the country with an HBO film crew.
Rodman said his reason for going was to “bring peace to the world,” reiterating that he is only an athlete.
Disregarding the North Korean leader’s political philosophy, Rodman said Kim Jong Un has always been “a nice guy to me.”
"Whatever he does political-wise, that's not my job,” Rodman said. “I'm just an athlete, an individual who wants to go over there and play something for the world. That's it."
The administration criticized previous trips by Rodman, saying the country should focus more on the well-being of its people rather than hosting “celebrity sporting events.”
Rodman’s visits have come amid strained relations between the U.S. and North Korea. Rodman’s first visit came after escalating tension over the country’s nuclear tests. Another trip in September came after the country had denied a special envoy to the country to lobby for the release of a U.S. prisoner there.
Rodman’s latest trip comes a month after Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of his uncle, who he accused of being a “traitor.”