Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman arrives at North Korea's Pyongyang airport on Tuesday, September 3, on his second trip to the reclusive, nuclear-armed nation this year. Rodman has since returned from the communist country, announcing he will put together a "basketball diplomacy" event with players from North Korea. But he put a damper on any speculation he might have been trying to free imprisoned American Kenneth Bae.
" border="0" height="360" width="640"/>Son Kwang Ho, vice chairman of North Korea's Olympic Committee, greets Rodman at the Pyongyang airport on September 3.
The retired NBA star faced criticism over his February visit to see the ruler of the repressive state. That trip came during a period of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Airport staff take pictures of the former NBA star at a check-in counter at China's Beijing Capital International Airport on September 3 while he was heading to North Korea.
This will be Rodman's third trip to North Korea. It's unclear if he'll meet with Kim Jong Un again.
Rodman and a documentary crew are scheduled to arrive on December 19
Experts say it's safe for them to travel there, and the trip won't be political, sponsor says
Sponsor: Rodman will train a North Korean team, doesn't have plans to meet with Kim Jong Un
The players are training for "The Big Bang in Pyongyang," a game against former NBA players
(CNN) -- As Dennis Rodman readies for his "basketball diplomacy" trip to North Korea, CNN has learned exclusively from Rodman's sponsor Paddy Power that Rodman and his documentary crew will arrive in Pyongyang on December 19 and train a team of North Korean basketball players through December 23.