N. Korean cheering squad go sightseeing in Gangneung

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Published on 14 Feb 2018, 0:12
北응원단, 오늘 '강릉 나들이'…경포대•오죽헌
Breaking away from their duties at the Winter Olympics for a while,... North Korea's cheerleading group took some time on Tuesday to tour the sub-host city of Gangneung.
Clad in their customary red tracksuits -- the women smiled and waved at passersby as they strolled along the beach.
They also gave a rare public performance.
Lee Ji-won reports.

After a long day of supporting the Olympic athletes on Monday, the 229-member North Korean cheering squad had their first day off on Tuesday.
They spent the day having a tour around Gangneung, one of the Olympic host cities.

"The first destination for the North Korean cheering squad is Gyeongpo beach,... where dozens of spectators and reporters have gathered to get a glimpse of them."

Reporters shouted questions to the troupe, but the squad members were careful in their responses.

"The weather is good and it's refreshing."

A number of them also jokingly complained that it's hard to enjoy the view with the reporters in their way.

"We came to see the beach, but with you ladies and gentlemen blocking the view, how can we? Let's talk after we enjoy the beach."

But some also shared their hopes for unification.

"(Seeing South Korea), I can strongly feel that we are one. I hope we can bring ourselves together and build a united country. I believe it's what everyone hopes for."

Without breaking formation, the North Koreans enjoyed the view from a pathway away from the beach,... and headed for lunch at a local convention center.
The second stop was the Ojukheon House, where one of Korea's famous female artists lived and gave birth to a prominent Confucian scholar.
But unlike at the previous stop, the cheering squad didn't answer any of the reporters' questions.
And after a tour around the house they gathered at a square where the North Korean band members performed a number of songs,... including 'Arirang' and their signature song 'Ban-gap-sup-ni-da' or "Nice to meet you."

"It's really touching to see their performance. I feel like unification is only a step away. North Korea's participation in the Winter Games was arranged very suddenly, but I feel like 2018 is going to be a year for the two Koreas to get closer to unification."

Though people seemed to be surprised by the sudden encounter with the North Korean cheering squad, it was a chance for them to see the Koreans from the North and feel a sense of kinship.

"It was a great experience. They smiled at us when our eyes met and they just looked like an average South Korean. Only by looking at the North Korean flag on their uniform could we tell that they were from the North."

Having completed their tour, the North Korean cheering squad headed back to its hotel. The squad is next scheduled to cheer for the joint-Korean women's ice hockey team against Japan on Wednesday.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News, Gangneung.

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