The famed North Korean cheerleading squad will not be attending the upcoming Asian Games set for next month in Incheon. According to Yonhap News, the North has reversed its decision to send the 350 member delegation, however will still be sending its 273 athletes and sports officials to the quadrennial event.
“The South called the cheerleading squad political subversives aimed at stirring trouble,” said vice chairman of the North Korean Olympic committee Son Kwang-ho, referring to hostility from the South Koreans. Son also stated that the size and cost of the squad, which they wanted the South to foot the bill, also led to the decision to reverse its decision. The South Korean government has also expressed regret over the decision.
The North Korean cheerleaders won the hearts of the South when they visited Busan in 2002 during the Asian Games, and also made appearances in the South in 2003 and 2006. Reports however of cheerleaders being imprisoned afterwards for violating an understood agreement of “not to speak about what they saw in the South” were widely reported, though denied by North Korea.
The Incheon Asian Games get underway September 19th and run through October 4th.
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