Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player, Eric Augustus 'Sleepy' Floyd, who joined former basketball star, Dennis Rodman in a game to mark leader Kim Jong Un's birthday in North Korea, returned to Beijing on Thursday (January 9), but avoided commenting on his experience.
Floyd covered his head as he moved through Beijing airport as a crowd of media pursued, asking how he felt about the game.
On Wednesday (December 8), Rodman led a chorus of North Koreans singing "Happy Birthday" to the leader of the isolated and heavily sanctioned country at the start of the basketball match that Kim attended with his wife.
North Korean state media said the song reflected Rodman's reverence for Kim Jong Un.
Sean Agnew, a club owner from the United States who watched the game as a tourist, told reporters in Beijing that Rodman seemed daunted when speaking to the crowd.
"When he did the speech he seemed more nervous than anything, at least to me. And I'm not sure if that's because it's 12,000 people and it's dead silent when he's talking. You can hear a pin drop in the room because it's not like an American basketball game, where's there's chatter back and forth. Everyone is quiet, sitting on their hands right before the game. So I guess that made it extra awkward, for lack of a better term," he said.
Rodman's fourth trip to North Korea has drawn criticism from human rights activists and the family of imprisoned U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae after Rodman appeared to suggest in an interview peppered with obscenities that Bae, rather than the North Korean authorities, was responsible for his incarceration.
Rodman has called Kim his friend, and the two could be seen smiling together on the front of Thursday's edition of a North Korean newspaper.
Hakin Sokmenseur, a former executive who also saw the game as a tourist, told media that acquaintances who had seen Rodman's accommodation said it was lavish.
"There's a suite, apparently, called the Jimmy Carter Suite, from President carter from 20 years ago, and it's a special VIP suite. He stayed there. I have no idea. I didn't stay there but it's apparently beautiful, wood-panelled, spacious, large, befitting a presidential suite, I suppose," he said.
Rodman headed to a North Korean ski resort on Thursday, a source with direct knowledge of his itinerary said, without confirming whether Kim had joined him.