The New York Times has an interesting article published about the unsurprisingly tight controls put on the North Korean cheerleading squad that has been one of the media highlights of the Winter Olympics:
They are under tight control, entering and exiting the arenas staging the world’s biggest sporting event with minders who shield them from any interaction with strangers. In this very public bubble, they have been the source of endless, intense curiosity. And in their sheer numbers and with the surreal scenes they have created, they have garnered a level of attention — in competition venues and in the news media — that would make most Olympic athletes envious.
“This is another part of their charm-and-peace offensive,” said Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum. “If you look at the big numbers, that’s a spectacle.”
For all the scrutiny they have garnered, little is known about the cheerleaders.
On Monday, the squad rode for an hour and a half in eight buses — accompanied by six police cars — from a remote resort at the Inje Speedium, a racetrack complex in Inje County, along the foothills of Mount Sorak.
The cheer squad is occupying 108 condominium units there, with two people sharing a room in most cases, according to Kim Tae-eun, a spokesman for the Inje Speedium. There are 21 North Korean reporters staying in rooms there, too. Most units have two televisions with network and satellite channels available, Kim said.
The cheerleaders have been eating their meals in one of the ballrooms of the adjacent hotel, about 100 meters from their accommodations, Kim said. The women arrived for meals in staggered groups of 30 or so, with two older male chaperones accompanying each group. They enter the ballroom in neat, double-file lines, and when they are finished eating they line up again for the two-minute walk back to their rooms.
Such military precision has been one of the visual hallmarks of their visit this month. At the stadium on Monday, the North Koreans carried identical bags with cheering props, including the white-and-blue unification flag. They wore matching red snowsuits — which swished loudly as they walked in packs — and white sneakers that looked vaguely similar to Adidas. They yelled slogans about unity and sang old Korean folk tunes.
The North Koreans do not make a move without at least one other compatriot and a South Korean government monitor. Trips to the restroom before and after the hockey game, for instance, took place in groups. And the older North Korean men chaperoning the squad who left the stadium during the game for cigarette breaks did so in groups of three. [New York Times]
You can read the rest at the link, but could you imagine the political problem for the Moon administration if one of these cheerleaders was able to defect?