Nuclear-ambitious North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea. Now we know one part of the delegation: the country’s elite female cheerleading squad known as the “army of beauties.”
Made up of young ladies in their late teens and early 20s, the cheerleading squad will give the world a softer look at the communist country than its leader Kim Jong-Un and the near-constant nuclear rhetoric emanating from the northern half of the Korean peninsula.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) January 9, 2018
The Olympic appearance will actually be the group’s fourth visit to South Korea. The Winter Games are being held in in Pyeongchang, located about 50 miles from the Demilitarized Zone that splits the two countries.
Korea split into a North and South at the end of the Korean War in 1953. South Korea is a democratic state.
The young women chosen for this special team must pass specific criteria; they must stand at least 5-foot, 3-inches tall and come from good families, said An Chan-Il, a defector researcher who runs the World Institute for North Korea Studies, according the Daily Mail.
“Those who play an instrument are from a band, and others are mostly students at the elite Kim Il-Sung University,” Chan-Il said.
The “army of beauties” made its first appearance in South Korea in 2002, where nearly 300 of them waved “unification flags.”
Pyeongchang Organizing Committee spokesman Sung Baik-You said the visit from the North’s cheerleading squad will help with ticket sales.
“It will fulfill our desires for a peaceful Olympics,” Baik-You said.
Added Lee Sun-Kyung, who organized the squad: “A joint cheering squad would be phenomenal.”
The visit by the young women is another hopeful sign for the two countries, which technically remain at war. In talks between the two nations, South Korea agreed to temporarily lift sanctions on North Korea in order to allow the delegation to attend the Games.
North Korea and the United States, a staunch ally of South Korea, have been engaged in heated rhetoric regarding North Korea’s ramped-up nuclear missile program. President Donald Trump has threatened to wipe out the country, and the DPRK has aired several threats toward the U.S. and its territories.
As for the potential goodwill of the Olympics, the North has said it plans to send officials, athletes, cheerleaders and journalists.