Mind the gap: North Korea's 'army of beauties' reveal cultural divide

GANGNEUNG (SOUTH KOREA): North Korea’s red-clad “army of beauties” cheerleaders are a key weapon in Pyongyang’s arsenal for its Winter Olympics charm offensive- but to some Southerners they illustrate the cultural divide across the Demilitarized Zone.
The 200-strong group- all in their late teens or early 20s and said to be handpicked from elite universities after strict background checks- chant “Cheer up” at events, clap and wave in unison, and sing traditional songs.

The Koreas’ separation- which dates back nearly seven decades during which the two countries have followed radically different paths- makes citizens of the North an object of some fascination for South Koreans.

“They look just like us,” said Kim Mi-hyun, 59, as the young North Koreans walked by in a neat double line on an excursion to a beach in Gangneung, the east coast city where the Winter Games ice events are being held.

“Looking at them makes me yearn for reunification,” she…

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