By Justin Sink - 09/03/13 01:43 PM EDT
Former NBA all-star Dennis Rodman landed in North Korea on Tuesday, telling reporters he wanted to visit his friend, leader Kim Jong Un, and “show people around the world that we as Americans can actually get along with North Korea.”
"I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that,” Rodman said, according to The Associated Press. “I have not been promised anything. I am just going there as a friendly gesture.”
This is the second time this year that Rodman has inserted himself into a tricky diplomatic situation with the North Korean regime.
Rodman's visit comes less than a week after Pyongyang rejected a request for a special envoy to visit the country on a humanitarian mission. The State Department had hoped to send Amb. Robert King to lobby the North Korean regime for the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen who has been jailed in the country.
Rodman has also asked for Bae's release, tweeting that Kim should "do me a solid" and release the American missionary.
The five-time NBA champion also visited North Korea earlier this year as part of an HBO documentary series; during his visit, he met Kim at a basketball game and attended a party at the dictator's palace.
That visit came amid escalating tensions over North Korea's nuclear test. Upon his return, Rodman told ABC News that Kim was hoping that President Obama would call him personally.
The White House responded by saying the North Korean regime should focus on improving the lives of its own people rather than hosting "celebrity sporting events."
"Instead of spending money on celebrity sporting events to entertain the elites of that country, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people who have been starved, imprisoned, and denied their human rights," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.