Dennis Rodman led an auditorium of North Koreans in singing "Happy Birthday" to their leader Kim Jong Un.
The celebration comes a day after the former U.S. basketball star sparked controversy by appearing to suggest a Korean-American was to blame for his captivity in the restrictive state.
Rodman brought a team of fellow former NBA stars to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un with an exhibition game.
The birthday is believed to have been on Wednesday though that has not been confirmed.
Simon Cockerell, a tour guide who watched the game in Pyongyang, said the audience had stood and cheered Kim for up to six minutes when he appeared with his wife.
Former basketball player Dennis Rodman raised international outrage during his fourth trip to North Korea after he appeared to suggest that Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae was to blame for his captivity in the restrictive country.
"If you understand what Kenneth Bae did ... Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive in this country?" Mr Rodman said in an interview with CNN, declining to respond to questions to clarify what he meant.
Former basketball player Dennis Rodman is in North Korea with a dozen former NBA colleagues to play an exhibition game. He said he hoped the trip would show people that the secretive state is "not that bad".
Mr Bae's sister, Terri Chung, said her family was "outraged" by his comments. "He is playing games with my brother's life," Chung said in a statement.
Asked about Rodman's comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, "I'm not going to dignify that outburst with a response."
Dennis Rodman declared his love for the leader of North Korea Kim Jon-un today, according to the AFP news agency.
Asked whether he planned to raise issues of human rights on his trip, he reportedly said:
But I am not going to sit there and go 'Hey guy, you are doing the wrong thing. That is not the right way to do it. He is my friend first ... and I love him.
Retired US basketball player Dennis Rodman has compared his forthcoming visit to North Korea to the Olympics.
He was speaking to reporters at Beijing Capital International Airport as he prepared to leave for Pyongyang.
America's most flamboyant basketball player is making another trip to North Korea, and this time he's bringing some friends.Read the full story ›
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has delivered a rare televised address to mark the new year.
On South Korea
It is time to end abuse and slander that is only good for doing harm and anything to hinder reconciliation and unity should not happen anymore. South Korean authorities should stop reckless fratricidal confrontation and fuss about 'North Korean sympathisers' while listening to the voice of people demanding the democratic unification and independence. They should come forward to improve North-South ties.
On military aggression
Dangerous circumstances are being established, which could make a minor military collision spark an all-out-war. If a war breaks out on this land, it will bring a tremendous nuclear disaster. Even the United States will never be safe.
On his executed uncle
Our party took firm measures to get rid of a faction of sewage that permeated the party. Our unity strengthened hundredfold and party and revolutionary lines became much more solid by purging the anti-party and anti-revolutionary faction.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un used his New Year message to hail the elimination of "factional filth" following the execution of his uncle.Read the full story ›
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his "great satisfaction" after visiting the country's first ski resort for New Year.
During the visit he rode on one of the new chair lifts at the luxury Masik Pass Ski Resort in Wonsan, in the east of the country.
Kim Jong-un, who studied in the Swiss capital Berne and is believed to have enjoyed skiing in the Alps, also looked around a hotel and rental shops at the resort.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was reportedly "very drunk" when he ordered the deaths of two aides close to his executed uncle, according to reports in the Japanese media.
The leader ordered the executions after they failed to hand over business to the military which left Kim "upset".
The aides were reportedly close to Kim's uncle Jang Song-thaek who was stripped of all his powers and executed after claims that he attempted to "overthrow the state".
The pair are believed to be among eight of Jang's aides to have been executed since the purge.
Just days after his uncle was executed for treason North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been pictured 'giving field guidance' to a fisheries station.
Jang Song Thaek is widely credited with helping Kim Jong-un to power following the death of Kim Jong-il two years ago.
Authorities said Jang was executed immediately after a military tribunal had decided his fate.
In the latest pictures Kim looks in a jovial mood as he walked between huge piles of frozen squid.