Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is expected to arrive in North Korea later on Tuesday.
Rodman has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on previous trips to Pyongyang and has called him “an awesome kid”.
His visit comes as tensions have heightened on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests and its vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
Four Americans are also being held in North Korea, including 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier, who has been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda banner.
Rodman has defended his travels, saying in an interview with CNN in 2014 they would help “open the door” to the reclusive state and described the North Korean leader as his “friend for life”.
During the 2014 visit he led a team of retired American players in a basketball game to celebrate Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
The colourful sportsman sang Happy Birthday to the leader, but his side were defeated by the North Koreans.