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The North Korean delegation led by Ri Son Gwon, Chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) of DPRK, cross the concrete border to attend a meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9, 2018.
Yonhap via Reuters
The North Koreans arrive for talks.

North Korea will send cheerleaders to the Winter Olympics in South Korea

Steve Mollman
By Steve Mollman

Weekend editor

North Korea and South Korea held high-level talks today (Jan. 9) for the first time in over two years. Representatives from the two sides focused mainly on how North Korea could participate in next month’s Winter Olympics, to be hosted by South Korea.

After the meeting, Chun Hae-sung, South Korea’s vice unification minister, said North Korea had offered to send a delegation that includes athletes, cheerleaders, cultural performers, Taekwondo performers, and government officials. The International Olympics Committee said Monday it would extend the deadline for North Korean athletes to register for the games.

Cheerleaders might seem like an odd choice, especially in contrast to the strained relations between the two nations, and the setting of the meeting—at one the world’s tensest, most heavily guarded borders.

Cheerleading, though, might well become an official Olympic sport in the years ahead. Last year the International Olympic Committee granted it provisional recognition. It won’t be part of the Olympic Games this year, but cheerleaders from various nations will still perform at the opening and closing ceremonies.

The US, for its part, is sending cheerleaders from the University of Kentucky, which has frequently produced national championship teams. Cheerleaders from Kentucky, then, might share performance space with ones from North Korea—also notable given the war of words between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Koreans might very well excel at cheerleading, with their highly choreographed performances in honor of the Kim family regime being, admittedly, impressive.

Reuters/Yuri Maltsev
Choreographed cheer in Pyongyang in August 2005.
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