Published : 2014-01-09 16:43
Updated : 2014-01-09 16:43
Eccentric former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman and some former NBA players are believed to have enjoyed skiing in North Korea, a day after holding an exhibition match for leader Kim Jong-un's birthday, an American tourist who returned from Pyongyang after watching the game said Thursday.
Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim in Pyongyang on Wednesday before joining the game with fellow former NBA players. Multiple Western tourists who attended the game and landed at the Beijing airport on Thursday told reporters that Rodman and some of the players were still in North Korea.
Asked about Rodman's whereabouts, Sean Agnew, a 20-something tourist from Philadelphia, answered, "I believe that some of the players are going to ski."
North Korea recently completed building a new ski complex, named Masik Pass Ski Resort, as a pet project for Kim.
Rodman played in the first half of the game against a group of North Korean players. In the second half, he sat next to Kim and they watched the game.
The heavily tattooed Rodman, 52, remains the highest-profile American to meet Kim, whose exact age is still unknown, but believed to be around 30. Kim took power in late 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.
Rodman, who has described Kim as his "friend for life," has been criticized for not using his personal friendship with Kim to seek the release of a detained American citizen, Kenneth Bae.
It is the fourth time that Rodman has visited North Korea in the past year.
Another U.S. tourist who also watched the game in Pyongyang and returned to Beijing told reporters that the game would only benefit Rodman.
"I think that it was successful for the purpose of Rodman. I'm not sure about any other purposes," Hakan Sokmensuer, a retired American executive, said of this week's game in North Korea. (Yonhap News)