He said he is "just trying to open a door" on a mission that he thinks his former "Celebrity Apprentice" boss would support. On this trip, he has already been roundly criticized by some for visiting during a time of high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches.
He was heavily criticised in the U.S. for not bringing up the case of Kenneth Bae, an American imprisoned on charges of "hostile acts" who spent 735 days in North Korean custody before being released later in 2014. "His relationship with Kim Jong Un was wonderful to see".
Former NBA player Charles Smith said at the time that he felt remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Rodman because the event was dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman's own comments.
The weed startup also described him as having "long-time friendships" with both President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the autocratic leader of North Korea. At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees. North Korea's Supreme Leader is reported to be a major basketball fan.
His entourage includes Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.
The controversial interview drew criticism activists, who said that Rodman was ignorant of North Korean human rights issues. The unlikely pair ended the evening with drinks and dining on sushi.
"Rodman is in the unusual position of being an acquaintance of both President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un", NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai.
Rodman's 2013 trip came just two weeks after North Korea conducted the first of three underground nuclear tests it has done under the rule of Kim, who is openly pursuing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the USA mainland.
Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, brought the older Kim a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan during a visit in 2000.
A statement issued in NY by a Rodman publicist said the former National Basketball Association player is in the rare position of being friends with the leaders of both North Korea and the United States.
The past year has seen increasingly aggressive missile testing from Kim Jong-un and (bizarrely) a recent threat to nuke New York City.
It came amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, which is now detaining four Americans.
The University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati was serving a 15 year prison term with hard labour after being convicted of subversion.
Warmbier was visiting North Korea as part of a tourist group arranged by Young Pioneer Tours, a tour agency based in Xian, China.
Before his trial, Warmbier had said he tried to steal a propaganda banner as a trophy for an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church.
Tillerson said in a statement that Warmbier is "en route to the United States, where he will be reunited with his family", and declined to comment further "out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family".
A statement from his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, dated June 13, stated: "Otto is on a Medivac on his flight home".
"Since March 2, no one has seen or heard from Otto". North Korea is expecting another visit by Rodman on Tuesda.