North Korea's 'army of beauties' takes centre stage at Olympics

230 members of the coordinated cheering squad turn heads from the stands

North Korea's 'army of beauties' takes centre stage at Olympics
North Korean cheerleaders perform during a visit by United States Vice President Mike Pence to Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. © Carl Court/Getty Images

By Amy Cleveland, CBC Sports

North Korea's Olympic spirit was on full display throughout Day 1 in Pyeongchang, South Korea — in the form of 230 very coordinated cheerleaders. 

The group of women, dubbed "the army of beauties," are taking 2018's theme of unity to the next level by making appearances in the stands in matching outfits while performing perfectly synchronized cheers. 

Of course, they're rooting for the unified Korean team made up of athletes from the North and South. They were in attendance for the host nation's first medal – Hyo-jun Lim's short track gold in the men's 1,500-metre final – as well as the opening match for unified Korea's women's hockey team.

The squad was also present at the opening ceremony on Friday to cheer on their delegation, which walked in the parade of nations alongside their South Korean counterparts.

Despite its enormous cheering section, North Korea only sent 22 athletes to compete — that's right, the team's cheerleaders outnumber its athletes by about 10-1.

While the rather militant look of the "army" lends itself to plenty of speculation, the New Yorker reported that they were chosen based on appearance and ideology. There was a thorough background check involved that was meant to root out anyone with relations to defectors or Japanese sympathizers.

They were reportedly chosen for their loyalty to the Kim dynasty and come from well-connected families. Their job is to make North Korea look good on the public stage. 

So far, that mission seems to be going well in Pyeongchang. 

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