Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" to Kim Jong Un
PYONGYANG, North Korea -
Dennis Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korea's leader before a friendly basketball game in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
The former NBA player dedicated the game to his "best friend" Kim Jong Un, who watched along with his wife and other senior officials from a special seating area.
According to the Associated Press, Kim Jong Un and the other officials were off-limits to foreign media filming the event.
Rodman and other former NBA players, including Charles D. Smith, Craig Hodges, Doug Christie, Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker, participated in the game.
The former NBA stars played against the North Korean team in the first half but split up and merged teams for the second half. The game was part of what Rodman calls his "basketball diplomacy" and has been heavily criticized in the United States.
"I think this is a very historical day today for everyone around the world, to see that we can co-exist with each other, if we just take a deep breath, and absorb this, how we look at certain things, so I think that it went very well for everyone involved," said Rodman.
"I questioned whether we were doing the right thing because of the media scrutiny. It was important to stand strong, and follow up and follow through, and, it all just worked out," said Smith.
But the sister of a Washington man imprisoned in North Korea says his family couldn't believe what Rodman said about him while on a basketball trip to celebrate the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un.
Terri Chung of Edmonds says Rodman doesn't know what he's talking about and may be hurting efforts to free 45-year-old Kenneth Bae.
In a CNN interview Tuesday, Rodman said he refused to discuss Bae with North Korean leaders and implied Bae may deserve his punishment.
Chung says the family has tried to reach Rodman or his agent in the past without success.
Bae of Lynnwood was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group. He was accused of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:51:46 GMT
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