Skip to main content

In Photos: North Korea's Cheerleading Squad — An Army of Beauties

Squad of smiles

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Jangwook Kim/Imaginechina/Newscom)

North Korea's cheerleading squad, called the "army of beauties" in South Korea where the team performed for the opening ceremonies at the 2018 Winter Olympics, remains tight-lipped and all smiles, according to news reports. The about 200-strong squad, as the New Yorker describes, presents "a doll-house version of military service: girls in their late teens and early twenties are plucked from the country's most prestigious universities and charged with making North Korea look good." Here's a look at the smiling gals whose job it is to present a softer, warmer view of the secretive Communist nation whose leader has continued to threaten to launch nuclear weapons at the U.S.

Lone visitor

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty)

The squad reportedly stayed at the Inje Speedium Resort Complex north of Pyeongchang in South Korea. Here, outside the Inje Speedium Resort Complex, a North Korean cheerleader sits on a bus.

2005 Asian Athletics Championships

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters/Newscom)

In Inchon, a town west of Seoul, on Aug. 31, 2005, some North Korean women cheer during the 16th Asian Athletics Championships. According to a survivor of a prison camp, some of those cheerleaders were placed in a prison camp for talking about their experiences, breaking a code of silence they swore, according to several news reports.

Dinnertime

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Yonhap News/Newscom/Zuma)

Part of the North Korean cheerleading squad walk to a nearby restaurant in Inje, near Gangneung, which is a sub-host city for the Pyeongchang Olympic Games.

2007 FIFA Women's Football World Cup

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Liu Jin/AFP/Getty)

In Whuan, in China's central provice of Hubei, the North Korean cheerleaders support their team before the quarter-final match with Germany in the 2007 FIFA Women's Football World Cup.

Welcoming the Olympic Team

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Jung Yeon-JE/AFP/Getty)

At the Olympic Village in Gangneung, the 200-plus strong group of North Korean cheerleaders prepare to participate in a welcoming ceremony for the North Korea's Olympic team before the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

2003 World Student Games

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty)

In Daegu (the fourth largest city in South Korea after Seoul), on Aug. 21, 2003, some of the North Korean cheer team wave national flags during opening ceremonies for the World Students Games.

2005 Asian Athletics Championships

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Kyodo News/Getty)

At the Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon, South Korea, a group of North Korean cheerleaders sing and fly the Korean Unification Flag.

Taking a stroll

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Jung Yeon-JE/AFP/Getty)

In Inje, a group of over 200 young North Korean women arrive at the Inje Speedium, where they stayed during the games. North Korea sent the squad to cheer for Korean athletes.

A future sport?

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Jangwook Kim/Imaginechina/Newscom)

During the strained talks between North and South Korea, it was decided the North will send a delegation of almost 200 people to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, including cheerleaders. While cheerleading is not currently an official Olympic sport, it was granted provisional recognition in 2017. And cheerleaders from several nations will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies at Pyeongchang.

A temporary home

North Korean Cheerleaders

(Image credit: Jung Yeon-JE/AFP/Getty)

North Korean cheerleaders enter the Inje Speedium, a racetrack and hotel complex where they will stay during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.