Four in the first game, 30 in the second…extremely reluctant to speak to the media
(Jinhua [China] = Yonhap) By Lee Sang-hyun and Ahn Hong-seok = A group of North Korean women cheerleaders showed up to support the North Korean men’s soccer team at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
About 30 North Korean supporters, dressed in matching white T-shirts and hats, were in the stands 20 minutes before the start of the men’s soccer qualifying match between North Korea and Kyrgyzstan at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 21.
At the first qualifying match against Chinese Taipei at the same venue on April 19, four women in matching mauve shirts and hats cheered, but this was a significant increase in numbers. 안전토토사이트
Dressed in white T-shirts with the sticks printed on them, they cheerfully snapped selfies and took photos of the field and the players warming up before the start of the game.
As kickoff time approached, a man who appeared to be a leader prepared the cheerleaders, instructing them on the angle and grip of the large banner.
“Take off your hats during the national anthem,” he said, giving detailed instructions.
Once the game started, the cheerleaders jumped to their feet and clapped in unison at every North Korean opportunity, chanting “Good job, my team” and other slogans.
When the North Koreans scored their first goal in the first 20 minutes of the game, they cheered as they left the stadium.
Other Chinese citizens were so excited to see the cheerleaders that they filmed them on their cell phones.
However, the cheerleaders remained silent when asked questions by reporters and were extremely cautious about interacting with the media.
When we approached the apparent leaders and asked them how they felt about participating in the tournament or winning the first game, they turned away before the questions were finished, saying, “I don’t have anything to say,” or “I don’t talk,” with hand gestures indicating that they refused to talk.
I asked the man behind me, who appeared to be in his early 50s, “Are you from the north? Or do you live here on the Hangzhou side?” he asked, but after staring into the reporter’s face for a moment with a stern expression, he turned his head back towards the ground.
A man in his late 30s who appeared to be his son also didn’t answer any of the reporter’s questions.
A woman in her 50s, who was dressed in casual clothes but seemed to have a close relationship with the cheerleaders, talking to them intimately and cheering in unison with them from a somewhat distant distance, answered the reporter’s questions briefly, saying only, “I’m a Korean.”
North Korea was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for unilaterally boycotting the 2021 Tokyo Olympics over COVID-19, and the ban was lifted on Dec. 31 last year.
North Korea has been slowly returning to international competition this year, sending nearly 200 athletes to the Hangzhou Asian Games, and the North Korean women’s cheerleading squad, which has drawn as much attention as the athletes, is back on the “international stage.