Fresh off the heels of his controversial meeting with Kim Jong Un, former basketball star Dennis Rodman says he will return to North Korea in August to "vacation" with the country's leader.
Rodman became the first American to meet the reclusive young leader in a visit to Pyongyang last month. In an interview with North Dakota's KXJB, Rodman, 51, described Kim as a friend.
"I don't condone what he does, but he's my friend," Rodman said. Rodman continued to say he will be "vacationing" with Kim in August.
Rodman's remarks come amid rising tensions between North Korea and the United States, after the Asian nation threatened to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the U.S. that would engulf Washington in a "sea of fire."
The U.S. conducted joint military drills with South Korea on Monday, prompting a North Korean paper to report the armistice that ended the Korean War had been nullified, as Kim urged front-line troops to be on "maximum alert" for a potential war.
Kim told artillery troops stationed near disputed waters that have seen several bloody clashes in past years that "war can break out right now," according to a report by North Korean state media.
Meanwhile, Rodman has turned his focus to Rome and the election of a new pope. According to the Associated Press, Rodman is expected to arrive in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday in a makeshift popemobile as he campaigns for Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana to become the church's first black pope.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.