North Korean charm offensive goes operational at PyeongChang Olympics

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) —

Journalist Chang Dong-woo reports for Yonhap that the performance today by the North Korean cheer squad performed in front of the international media at Gangneung Olympic Village.

An 80-strong marching band within the contingent made its South Korean debut at a welcome event for the North’s national team at the athletes’ village in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the Olympics.

An all-female North Korean marching band arrives at PyeongChang Olympic Village in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

An all-female North Korean marching band arrives at PyeongChang Olympic Village in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

The spotlight, normally reserved for athletes, was dominated by the marching band, comprised mostly of young ladies in their 20s, as they lightened up the initially tense and guarded atmosphere by its first-ever performance in the South.

The medley commenced with “Nice To Meet You,” an iconic North Korean traditional number that is widely known to South Koreans, later followed by “Arirang,” a famous Korean folk song that will also be played during the joint entrance of the two Koreas at Friday’s opening ceremony.

Without any intervals or comments, the band continued with “Poongnyeonga,” “Song of the Sea” and “Ongheya.” Despite the limited space at the event, the ladies showed off some light choreography, walking around and moving their arms while playing their instruments. The band capped off the performance with “Kwaejina Ching Ching Nane” and “Youth Hymn.”

An all-female North Korean marching band is seen at a welcome event held for the North's Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

An all-female North Korean marching band is seen at a welcome event held for the North’s Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

The North Korean athletes, who initially looked tense and rigid, even declining to dance together with South Korean dancers at the event, but later smiled and loosened up while the music played.

An all-female North Korean marching band performs at a welcome event for the North's Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

An all-female North Korean marching band performs at a welcome event for the North’s Olympic squad at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, a venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

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