Former NBA star Dennis Rodman declared that "everybody's going to be happy" with the results of his latest trip to North Korea.
"Everybody's going to be happy," Rodman said upon arriving in Beijing, China. "It was a good day. It was a good trip. A really good trip."
Rodman is a recurring visitor to North Korea, where he has been feted by dictator Kim Jong Un and has praised the regime. Such visits took place as U.S. officials have worked to secure the release of various Americans detained in the country on specious charges; they contributed to the desire by some U.S. lawmakers to ban tourism in North Korea.
The former Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons great declined to say if he'd met the dictator during his latest five-day visit to North Korea. "You'll find out," he said.
His comments come days after North Korea released Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student arrested in 2016 for stealing a propaganda poster during a visit to the country. He was sentenced to 17 years of hard labor and he was in a coma when he returned to the United States.
Rodman has a controversial history on the subject of Americans detained in North Korea. He suggested in 2014 that American media had overlooked how a missionary arrested by the regime had provoked the detention. "Can you understand what he did in this country?" Rodman said on CNN. "You tell me, you tell me, why is he held captive?"
Rodman apologized and the missionary, Kenneth Bae, later credited him as the "catalyst" for his eventual release. "Because of his rant, the media attention on my plight was increased," Bae said. "If I meet him someday, I'll just want to say ‘thank you' for what he has done, it really brought international attention [to] my plight."
President Trump may restrict American travel to the United States, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and some lawmakers have also proposed legislation banning tourism.
"And my concern, indeed, [is] that tourists got here simply supporting a dictatorial totalitarian regime," Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who co-sponsored the bill, told Tillerson during a House hearing on Wednesday.