McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Sports

July 9, 2014

Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

WASHINGTON — When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges. But the news that Pyongyang plans to send a "cheerleading squad" to the South Korean city of Incheon for the upcoming Asian Games is not just weird - it may actually be an important political sign.

The cheerleading squad's proposed visit was first announced in a report from KCNA, North Korea's official news agency. "It is necessary to put an end to all kinds of calumnies and vituperation that foster misunderstanding and distrust among the fellow countrymen," the report read, according to Reuters. "We have decided to dispatch a cheer-leading squad along with the athletes to the 17th Asian Games in order to improve relationships between the North and the South and to create an atmosphere of national reconciliation."

North Korea sent hundreds of cheerleaders to the South for sporting events in 2002, 2003 and 2005, and the synchronized dancers drew positive responses from South Korean crowds who reportedly called them an "army of beauties." However, the dancers have not been sent south in almost a decade, and in 2006 there were reports that some of those cheerleaders had been imprisoned for talking about their experiences abroad upon their return.

So what's changed? Well, the latest announcement comes as Pyongyang appears to be extending an olive branch to Seoul after a period in which relations had been frayed by missile launches and violent rhetoric. The top story on the KCNA Web site this week is a statement that calls for "ending confrontation and improving North-South ties," arguing that "South Korean authorities should discard the anachronistic concept of hostility." A number of other stories carried by the news agency push a similar sentiment.

It's certainly possible that North Korea is making a cynical charm offensive to be used as leverage, Adam Cathcart, editor in chief of North Korea-watching Website Sino-NK says, although this does really appear to be a sign that the softer tone North Korea had adopted toward the South at the start of 2014 may be returning. "Any time you have North Koreans agreeing to send an official delegation of their own people to South Korea for any reason, it is a big deal," Cathcart said in an e-mail.

There's also another big event looming that Kim Jong Un may want a piece of, Cathcart notes: the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, due to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. North Korea has clearly been promoting its own winter sports resorts recently, and may even be hoping to co-host some events. "That will be good for his prestige and would feed into this notion he's promoting internally of North Korea's international importance," Cathcart points out. The move also carries the distinctive fingerprints of Kim, the young leader of North Korea, who has shown a fondness for sporting diplomacy (Dennis Rodman's trips being another obvious example). Kim's own wife, Ri Sol Ju, was one of the performers sent to South Korea in 2005, and may have had a word in her husband's ear promoting the trip.

All in all, sporting events may have been a rare bright spot in recent North-South Korean relations.



 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Media days hot topic, 'Final Four'

    Never have the words “Final Four” been used so often at a football media gathering.

    July 22, 2014

  • 20110929_bowling.jpg Why fewer people go bowling

    Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Square logo.jpg King James of Akron returns to his Cleveland Kingdom

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

    When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg U.S. loss on World Cup pitch was a win back home

    Exuberant fans - even those who couldn't tell you what offsides means - cheered on the U.S. men's national team during the World Cup in Brazil. Are those fans excited enough to keep watching soccer now that the United States has been eliminated?

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Baseball should reinstate Pete Rose

    There's no question that Pete Rose's credentials as a player qualify him for baseball's Hall of Fame. Now, 25 years after he was banished for gambling on games, Charlie Hustle should be allowed back in baseball, presumably to take his place in Cooperstown.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1065.jpg The end of 'Redskins?' Social media reacts to trademark cancellation

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the trademarks of the Washington Redskins on the basis that it is "disparaging to Native Americans.” Reaction to the decision was, predictably, divided and intense. Here is a sampling from Twitter and YouTube.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mexican drug lord arrested at World Cup

    Jose Diaz-Barajas, 49, was arrested at Rio de Janeiro's Tom Jobim airport Monday night as he boarded a plane to Fortaleza, where Mexico played Brazil Tuesday, Luiz Cravo Dorea, head of international cooperation at the Federal Police, said. The world soccer governing body, FIFA, had informed police that Diaz- Barajas, who was accompanied by his wife and two children, held tickets, Dorea said.

    June 20, 2014

  • Donald Sterling needs to go away

    Whether it happens due to a quick settlement or a likely longer trial, Clippers owner Donald Sterling just needs to go away.

    June 19, 2014

  • Kevin Durant Kevin Durant’s grace period will end soon

    After his 7th season ended Saturday with the Thunder’s Game 6 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, the grace period for Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant may soon be drawing to a close.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
NDN Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.