North Korea said Monday it will send a cheering squad to the coming Asian Games in rival South Korea that its athletes plan to attend.
A North Korean statement said the dispatch of its cheering squad to the games, set for Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in the South Korean city of Incheon, is aimed at promoting reconciliation between the rivals. The statement released via state media repeated the country's demands the two Koreas halt mutual slandering and Seoul scrap military drills with Washington that it calls an invasion rehearsal. South Korean and U.S. officials have said their drills are defensive in nature.
North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both in Seoul, but attended the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the 2003 University Games in Daegu and the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon.
In all three events, the North dispatched cheering squads, mostly comprising of young women — called an "army of beauties" in South Korea — which often received more attention than the country's athletes. Among the 2005 squad was Ri Sol Ju, who has later become wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to South Korean officials. The North's statement didn't provide details about its cheerleaders to the Incheon games.