TOKYO — Dennis Rodman has returned from a five-day trip to North Korea, but he did not meet with a man he once called his “friend for life” — Kim Jong Un.
The colorful retired basketball player did not speak to reporters waiting for him when he arrived in Beijing after leaving Pyongyang.
After a disastrous trip in 2014, Rodman’s fifth journey into North Korea seemed to be something of a redemption tour. It was relatively low-key and passed without major controversy.
Rodman was widely criticized for singing happy birthday to Kim Jong Un from the basketball court during a trip to the isolated state in 2014, and also for an angry and apparently drunken television interview in which he suggested that an American imprisoned in North Korea had deserved his punishment. Soon after returning to the United States, Rodman went into rehab.
This time, Rodman visited important Kim regime monuments, coached a women’s basketball team, and presented gifts to his host, the sports minister, to pass on to Kim Jong Un. They included two autographed basketball jerseys, soap sets, a mermaid jigsaw and a “Where’s Waldo?” book for Kim’s daughter – and a copy of Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.”