North Korea to send cheerleading squad to Incheon Asian Games

July 7, 2014
A squad of North Korean cheerleaders arrive at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 31, 2005, to attend the 16th Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon. North Korea said on July 7, 2014, it will dispatch a cheerleading contingent to the Incheon Asian Games in September along with its athletes to help improve inter-Korean relations and to show Pyongyang's commitment to unification. (Yonhap)

A squad of North Korean cheerleaders arrive at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 31, 2005, to attend the 16th Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon. North Korea said on July 7, 2014, it will dispatch a cheerleading contingent to the Incheon Asian Games in September along with its athletes to help improve inter-Korean relations and to show Pyongyang’s commitment to unification. (Yonhap)

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)

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)

(Yonhap) — North Korea will dispatch a cheering squad to the upcoming Asian Games to be held in the South Korean city of Incheon in September, the country said Monday in a renewed conciliatory gesture toward Seoul.

In a government announcement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the communist country said it will send the cheerleading contingent to the 17th Asian Games along with its athletes.

It said the purpose of the squad is to improve inter-Korean relations and to show Pyongyang’s commitment to unification.

Seoul will take steps to prepare for the hosting of the North Korean athletes and the cheering squad in accordance with international practice, unification ministry spokesman Kim Eyi-do said in a briefing.

“It has yet to be decided whether to hold working-level talks (with North Korea) or deal with (the preparation issues) through the games’ organizing committee,” Kim said.

The North announced on May 23 that it will be sending its athletes to the Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea’s second-largest port city. The Asiad will be held from Sept. 19 through Oct. 4.

The upcoming move would mark the North’s first dispatch of a cheering squad to a South Korea-hosted international sports event in nine years since the one sent to the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships held in Incheon.

A total of three North Korean cheering squads have been dispatched to international sports events held in South Korea, including the Busan Asian Games in 2002.

“Our sincere decision this time will melt the frozen North-South relations with the heat of national reconciliation while displaying the entire Korean people’s will of unification in and outside (of the peninsula),” the statement said.

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, who met North Korean officials in China in March.

“The size may be around 100 20-something women who are chosen on the basis of appearance and ideology,” Kim said.

Pyongyang dispatched a similarly-composed cheering squad to the 2005 Busan event, drawing keen media interest in the beauty and well-coordinated cheering of the delegation.

Also included in the statement were calls on both Koreas to desist from confrontation and open a new chapter of reconciliation and unity.

“The North and South should pave the way to mend ties,” the statement noted.

The North also called on Seoul to lift anti-Pyongyang sanctions imposed after the North’s deadly sinking of a South Korean Navy corvette in 2010 and adhere to former conciliatory inter-Korean agreements, saying, “If our aforementioned stances and measures are put into action, it will be instrumental in normalizing North-South relations and in achieving national reconciliation and unity.”

The calls came on the heels of the North’s “special proposal” issued on June 30 that both countries end mutual military hostilities, including a joint Seoul-Washington military drill planned for later this year.

Seoul has previously rejected the proposal citing lack of sincerity, but Pyongyang has repeated such calls.

Responding to North Korea’s renewed offer, the South Korean official said that the government’s stance to seek dialogue with the North has not changed, adding that, however, “the North’s unilateral buck-passing attitude could not solve any problems.”

Seoul has not shifted its stance on the May 24 anti-Pyongyang sanctions, Kim also said, suggesting that the government has no plan to lift them.

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