North Korean Cheer Squad Makes an Impression at the 2018 Olympic Games

Gigi Gallaudet, Reporter

This year at the Winter Olympics there have been many sources of interest, from Russia’s disqualification, to North and South Korea competing together, to an elusive new phenomenon: North Korea’s Cheer Team.

The 229-member squad outnumbers North Korea’s twenty-two athletes set to actually participate in events, according to an article from the New York Times. Easy to spot, wearing matching uniforms and traveling in groups, the cheerleaders have drawn attention in both positive and negative ways.

“It’s kinda disturbing,” said junior Sadie Kenny. “They just seem to be putting on a big show.”

Putting on a show they are. The squad has several choreographed chants and dances which they perform through the entire duration of the event they’re attending. One of their most popular chants is repeating the phrase “We are one!” according to The Guardian. This is supposed to represent hopes for a more unified future between North and South Korea, according to the New York Times.

“I’m glad North Korea is making an effort,” said senior Cameron Griffin “but it does look a little forced.”

The cheerleaders have been criticized as “singing, dancing spearheads of a strategic North Korean propaganda campaign at the Games,” according to The New York Times. This theory stems from the fact that the cheerleaders aren’t given many freedoms. They don’t speak to anyone outside of their squadmates, they go to the bathroom in groups, and are escorted to and from events by bodyguards, according to The New York Times.

“Yeah I think that’s creepy,” said senior Sam Peerce, referring to the strict guidelines that the team must follow.

Whether the cheer squad will have its desired effect of unifying the two countries is yet to be seen, but many outsiders looking in appear to be doubtful.