N. Korea scraps plan to send cheerleaders to Asian Games

August 28, 2014
The cheering team may be composed of around 100 good-looking women in their early- or mid-20s, said Kim Gyeong-sung, the South Korean head of an inter-Korean civil sports exchange body. (Yonhap)

North Korean cheerleaders will not be visiting South Korea for the first time in nine years after all. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Reversing its earlier decision, North Korea said Thursday that it will not send a cheerleading squad to accompany its athletes who will compete in the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea.

The announcement by Son Kwang-ho, the vice chairman of North Korea’s National Olympic Committee, said no cheerleaders will be dispatched to the Asiad to be held in the western port city of Incheon from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.

Son cited South Korea’s negative view of its cheerleaders as a major reason for its decision to call off its plan.

“The South called the cheerleading squad political subversives aimed at stirring trouble, and raised issues with its size and even touched on cost that caused working level talks to break down,” Son said in a statement broadcast on the North’s Chosun Central TV.

Son said its decision not to send cheerleaders was conveyed to South Korea when its working-level delegates visited Incheon last week.

North Korea had earlier announced its plan to send a 350-member cheerleading squad to the Asiad in a move to promote goodwill between the two Koreas, but there have been disagreements in the negotiation process, especially on who will pay for the group while in South Korea.

Despite the move, the North has already announced that it will send a 273-member delegation made up of athletes and sports officials to the Asian Games.

Related to the report, the Seoul government, which had kept silent on Pyongyang’s earlier notification, belatedly confirmed such a message was delivered.

“The North had conveyed its position in regards to the cheerleading squad,” an official, who declined to be identified said.

The Ministry of Unification, which handles all negotiations with the North, meanwhile, said in a press release that it will continue to take all necessary steps to make certain that the North Korean team can participate in the upcoming sports extravaganza.

“Every effort has been made to facilitate the participation of North Koreans after Pyongyang made known its wish to dispatch its athletes and cheerleading squad,” it said.

The ministry then stressed the government is fully committed to the successful hosting of the Incheon Asian Games.