The ​North Korea’s Cheerleader Diplomacy


You wouldn’t expect from a country like North Korea to have cheerleaders, do you? Well, they have, and they arrived at the Winter Olympics. They outnumber the North’s competing athletes by roughly 10 to one and at most times look decidedly out-of-place.

Before the preliminary match between Sweden and the Unified Korean team, South Koreans showered the cheerleaders from the North with questions, but the cheerleader squad from the Hermit Kingdom responded only with tight-lipped smiles. Most of the audience was more interested in snapping selfies or simply standing near the North Korea’s cheerleaders than actually talking with them anyway.

This is the first time most South Koreans meet face-to-face with their neighbors. The cheerleaders are part of North’s last-minute delegation, and seated in the stand in six separate groups, they performed synchronized cheers throughout the second game of the Unified Korea’s women’s hockey team. All their movement are coordinated, every clap or wave of a flag is performed in unison.

The women, dressed in identical red tracksuits, delivered enthusiastic chants complete with face cut-outs and small flags of Korea to really sell a chill vibe. And no matter the result of the match (0-8 against Switzerland looked painful) they still danced out to the music of BTS K-Pop boy band. And they seem to enjoy their time at the Olympics. There remains to be seen if their ‘charm offensive’ will have the desired result, but for now they remain quite an attractive view.