Dennis Rodman sang “Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, right before former NBA players held an exhibition game with North Korean players.
"It started out as surreal,” tour guide Simon Cockerell told Reuters, “then people joined in and it sort of faded a bit, but it seemed pretty heartfelt from Rodman's side.”
"It was unexpected, and probably unplanned," he said. "Kim Jong Un appeared to smile, but he didn't appear to expect it."
Other players did not join in with Rodman.
"We always tell Dennis that he can't sing. He is tone deaf," said former New York Knick Charles D. Smith. "He did it alone."
Rodman bore the brunt of criticism for his “basketball diplomacy,” while American Kenneth Bae has been detained in Korea for more than a year with no charges filed against him.
In an outburst on CNN Tuesday, Rodman said that Bae is being held for a reason implying that he had done something criminal.
Bae’s family is “outraged” by the comments. His sister Terri Chung said Rodman could “do a lot of good” for her brother if he wanted to, but instead he chose to “hurl outrageous accusations.”
"He is playing games with my brother's life," Chung said in a statement. "There is no diplomacy, only games, and at my brother's expense."
She said Bae never had any hostile intentions against the state.
"He is clearly uninformed about Kenneth's case, and he is certainly not in any position to pass judgment," Chung said of Rodman.
Bae, a married father of three, was a tour guide in North Korea when he was detained in 2012. He has never been charged with a crime but was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He suffered a number of health issues during his detainment and was transferred out of a labor camp to a hospital.
His family believes the fact that Bae is a devout Christian is why he was taken into custody and accused of subversive activity to bring down the government. North Korea is a staunchly atheist state.