North Korean cheer leaders stole the show at the Winter Olympics

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Decked out in matching red outfits, the young North Korean ‘army of beauties’ burst into a perfectly choreographed routine in the South Korean city of Gangneung. The performers — dubbed by the south as the ‘army of beauties’ — have been dispatched south as part of a North Korean charm offensive after months of fiery rhetoric threatening nuclear war and provocative missile tests. National security analysts claims the campaign is aimed to drive a wedge between the US and South Korea, as the North rushes to develop more sophisticated nuclear weapons.

The crowd was instantly awestruck as the group swayed in unison and sung songs in Korean as they waved small unified Korean Peninsula flags to the delight of the home crowd.

The cheerleaders performed a variety of songs, clapping and holding masks in unison, and a Mexican wave, as the group leader paced up and down an aisle in front of them, enthusiastically conducting.

In a stark clash of cultures, the North Koreans sang “uri nun, hana da” (we are one) and clapped as local hip hop artists rapped on a stage behind them and K-Pop blared over the loudspeakers.

North Korean cheerleaders perform during the women’s preliminary round ice hockey match between the unified Korea team and Switzerland at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 10, 2018. Picture: AFP / Ed Jones.

But, there is a darker side to this display of warmth as they’ll go to prison if they put a foot wrong. The squad are under strict instructions to report any conversations they have with South Koreans to the authorities during their stay and have daily meetings with officials.

At the 2003 University Games in Taegu, accusations that local right-wing groups had “ransacked” bedrooms and stolen underwear at the North Korean delegation’s hotel prompted the cheerleaders to down pompoms in protest.

In 2006, twenty-one members of North Korean cheering squads who traveled to South Korea for sports events were sent to a prison camp for talking about what they saw in the South. The female squad apparently violated a pledge not to speak about what they saw in South Korea.

North and South Korea have shared a heavily fortified border since the Korean War ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

The cheerleaders made their first appearance at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, hitting the headlines when nearly 300 of them arrived on a ferry dressed in colourful hanboks — traditional Korean dresses — and waving so-called unification flags, a pale blue silhouette of the whole Korean peninsula.

Hundreds of Busan residents lined the port to greet them, with several homes also flying unification flags.

With their tight choreography — sometimes using props such as fans — the cheerleaders were lavished with attention as they sang and danced in the stands.

Excerpts from this article are from Mail Online UK and Herald Sun Australia.

 

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