A Night Out With North Korea’s Cheerleaders: Matching Snowsuits, Military Discipline as well as Chaperoned Bathroom Trips

The cheerleaders have been eating their meals in one of the ballrooms of the adjacent hotel, about 100 meters through their accommodations, Kim said. The women arrived for meals in staggered groups of 30 or so, with two older male chaperones accompanying each group. They enter the ballroom in neat, double-file lines, as well as when they are finished eating they line up again for the two-minute walk back to their rooms.

Such military precision has been one of the visual hallmarks of their visit This particular month. At the stadium on Monday, the North Koreans carried identical bags with cheering props, including the white-as well as-blue unification flag. They wore matching red snowsuits — which swished loudly as they walked in packs — as well as white sneakers that will looked vaguely similar to Adidas. They yelled slogans about unity as well as sang old Korean folk tunes.

The North Koreans do not make a move without at least one various other compatriot as well as a South Korean government monitor. Trips to the restroom before as well as after the hockey game, for instance, took place in groups. as well as the older North Korean men chaperoning the squad who left the stadium during the game for cigarette breaks did so in groups of three.

At times the cheerleaders seemed perfectly engaged with their surroundings, inching forward with anticipation whenever the Korean team made a rare foray toward goal, waving back at times to curious passers-by. The arena was never louder than the idea was after Sweden scored the first of eight goals as well as the North Korean cheer squad immediately sparked a rousing, flag-waving chant of “Cheer up!” that will was joined by nearly everyone from the stadium.

yet at various other times they seemed utterly oblivious, or indifferent, to their surroundings. from the second period, an American man proposed to his girlfriend on the arena’s video board, earning raucous cheers, as well as then a long round of warm applause, through the rapt crowd. All the while, the North Koreans, staring straight ahead, never stopped chanting, “We are one!”

During a stoppage later on from the game, when four scantily clad South Korean cheerleaders gyrated to the song “Boyfriend,” by Avril Lavigne, the North Koreans swayed, clapped as well as sang their own song in a completely different beat.

Such moments of dissonance combined to a dreamlike effect.

“They will stick on message,” said Jenny Town, assistant director of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins’s School of Advanced International Studies. “They are basically unflappable.”

Town said cheerleaders in North Korea were groomed much like athletes as well as various other entertainers, who are seen as symbols of national strength as well as discipline, as well as came through elite families in Pyongyang.

Han Seo-hee, 35, a North Korean defector to the South, who was picked to be a cheerleader 16 years ago, said squad members were drawn through various performance troupes around the capital. She said many, herself included, belonged to a band associated with the Ministry of People’s Security, a national law enforcement agency, which she joined after high school. Though the idea was not a year-round job, the women could be called in for months of full-time training before a major event.

Han explained the selection criteria: “Those who are well assimilated to the North Korean regime, those who are exemplars of working collectively, those who are through the right families, as well as of course those who meet the height as well as age standards,” she said.

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