Dennis Rodman is reportedly travelling back to North Korea

He was expected to arrive in North Korea later on Tuesday for a trip that the State Department said was not an official US visit, CNN reported on Monday.

He was spotted by CNN at Beijing's worldwide airport, where he declined to answer questions and gave no indication of the objective of his visit.

Dennis Rodman, the bad boy of '90s basketball, is heading back to North Korea this week, CNN reported. A senior U.S. official also confirmed Rodman's trip and said he was not there in an official capacity, according to CNN. The goal for Rodman's visit is not known, though he's has said in the past he considers North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a friend.

The flamboyant Rodman, who has called Kim "an awesome kid", said in an interview with CNN in 2014, his travels to North Korea would help "open the door" to the isolated nation.

NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman is reportedly on his way back to North Korea, according to a new report.

Tensions have increased dramatically between the United States and North Korea since that time.

"I was in [Trump's] office, and he said, "I want to go" to North Korea", Rodman recalled.

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Just last month, Rodman said Kim Jong Un was a "friend for life."

Rodman's expected visit to Pyongyang would be the first under Trump, a man with whom he has a personal relationship.

Rodman has visited the country at least four times, with three of the visits taking place between 2013 and 2014.

Rodman knows President Donald Trump personally - he was a contestant on Trump's TV reality program "Celebrity Apprentice" - and endorsed him during the campaign.

Analyst Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer at Troy University, said he did not believe that Rodman was going as a back-channel emissary from Trump, despite U.S. media speculation.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on Rodman's trip, but administration officials had told other media that the basketballer was traveling in a private capacity.

The North has occasionally jailed U.S. citizens on charges ranging from hostile acts to illegal entry, and released them only after visits by high-profile figures including former president Bill Clinton. Trump fired Rodman in both seasons.

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