A Night Out With North Korea’s Cheerleaders: Matching Snowsuits, Military Discipline and Chaperoned Bathroom Trips

They have garnered more attention than most athletes competing at the Winter Games. “Goodbye!” they called out to an empty arena before boarding buses back to their condos.


Comments: 104

  1. With all due respect for these I am sure sweet and I guess innocent girls, being played by their Byzantine backmen: This may possibly fly in North Korea as part of a staged happy food for deprivation community exercise, but in our part of the world ? Give me a break !!

  2. Seems like the Times should offer some perspective that if any of them “misbehaves” that they will be likely punished in an inhumane way along with their families. This type of fawning coverage understates the brutal regime they live under. Don’t forget their leader murdered his half brother and had a rival obliterated by anti-aircraft fire.

  3. The tight supervision is obviously in place to avoid deflection, a common occurrence when a country with a totalitarian regime sends its athletes overseas. I wonder how many will deflect after these Olympic games. The fact that these women are hand-picked is nothing new, again, it's a standard stamp of the dictatorship to show off its strength by sending in groups of men or women dedicated to a particular activity, be it a national choir, a dance ensemble, or in this case, the cheerleading.

  4. Why is it not surprising to read that the North Korean cheerleader team is part of the Ministry of Security? It is also disturbing, but also not surprising, that they are chanting "we are one" while normal humans in the stadium were cheering a man proposing to his girlfriend. Media outlets that celebrated North Korea this past weekend would be wise to read this dispatch from the Times.

  5. They are there to look pretty, but are carefully prevented from doing what they might like to do the most -- which is to flee. They can't even experience anything in South Korea that would tip them off to how terrible they have it back home.
    The sight of them makes me sad.

  6. What would tip many Americans to realize how terrible they have it? What about the healthcare, childcare, care for elderly, university education, vacation time etc etc that Europeans have. Who knows? What about our crumbling infrastructure, the education system, failed civil war reconstruction that has allowed a seething racism dampen our American souls Who's to know?

  7. can i just say, i am watching the olympics from australia and it is ALL about the sport. I feel like you are watching some politicised event i am thankfully being spared.

  8. I don't understand what you mean by "politicized". North Korea is a reality for many people. If you don't want to acknowledge it, feel free, but don't act like you take moral high ground by only paying attention to "sport".

  9. Sadly, coverage in the US consists of the full performances of American athletes, closeups of any American who makes it to the medal ceremony and LONG, drawn out tales of the road that brought a photogenic American few to Korea.

    Pathos and not performance.

  10. Of course there is reaction. These girls are prisoners screaming for help with their eyes. If they do not smile or move perfectly they, their family, or both will be thrown in camps. That must be so terrifying I cannot even imagine.

  11. Every murderous, totalitarian dictatorship in recent history has had its "for export" artists and performers.

    These lovely young women are the face that Kim Jong-Un, and his father and grandfather before him, wish to present to the world.

    These well-fed, nurtured, made-up, talented and globe-trotting performers do not live amongst ordinary people, but rather are housed at a single location where their lives are regulated 24/7.

    Their presence at the Olympic games is intended to shape and manipulate international perceptions of the tyrannical regime they represent.

    They also are thoroughly brainwashed; if they were invited to defect to South Korea, they almost certainly would decline the invitation.

    For those of us who live in the West, it is vitally important to not allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of complacency when observing these beautiful young ladies. They are hard as steel, unwavering in their commitment to their Supreme Leader and because they are privileged, fully devoted to the only way of life they have ever known. They likely know nothing about the mass starvation and killings of their countrymen, the forced labor and re-education camps the dot the North Korean countryside, or the fact that their's is an impoverished nation that has sacrificed food for its citizens in the name of a nuclear weapons program.

  12. You have met every one of these women, and know for a fact that each one is thoroughly brainwashed?

  13. You can't be this naive. These women, along with everyone else living in North Korea, do not have access to any information outside of what is provided by the state. Their entire education of the history of their country, and the world, centers around "the great men from Paektu Mountain".

  14. That's what we used to say about the Russians and the Chinese as well. Well, we have since learned that this was not true of the Russians, and I have personally known enough Chinese to know that it was not true there either. Just because these women do not have any opportunity to express themselves does not mean that they are mindless and brainwashed. They are human beings. Why is every one so anxious to take that away from them. It's not their fault that they were born where they were.

  15. They're just shiny cogs in a propaganda machine. And for those who worry for their well-being - fear not, these girls are among the most privileged of the North Korean elite. They have lived their whole lives far from the poverty and violence that the majority of North Koreans have to suffer. In fact, they most likely aren't even aware of (and wouldn't believe if anyone told them) how dismal the living conditions are outside of Pyeongyang.

  16. So much attention to North Korea in the olympics is overshadowing the games. Somehow all the media buzz in Korean reporting is effective beyond Mr. Kim`s wildest dreams. What a discrace. No one dare mention the missles shot over Japan a month ago or the concentration camps that go on in Korea. This olympics has the air of Munich, 1936.

  17. I feel very sorry for these young women. They were born into a cult and have no choice but to do as they are told and be used a propaganda tool.

  18. I personally have enjoyed watching the North Korean cheerleaders; they're not the enemy. We need to separate them from the politics behind them. Perhaps what they see and experience in the South will give rise to their own thoughts that the world isn't out to get them.

  19. Oops, meant the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Every dictatorship must have “Democratic” in its name.

  20. Thanks for the interesting article. These cute little robots are just doing their job and hopefully being able to have some enjoyment. Sad.
    The games are for everyone and focusing on athletics is most important. Leave the politics aside. Mr. Pence looked arrogant and foolish - the perfect representative of our present government.

  21. Where is all the outrage from the left regarding how these girls are used and manipulated in the service of the state? Very quiet out there except for platitudes.

  22. would I be able to simply say, I am viewing the Olympics from Australia and it is about the game? I feel like you are observing some politicized occasion I am thankful

  23. I would not be surprised to hear that our President is impressed by this concept and suggests that we have a similar cheerleader contingent.

  24. It's hard to look at this and not feel incredibly privileged to have been born an American.

  25. No need for a diversity coordinator here. Some day soon, they will actually be cloned for even greater conformity to the Dear Leader's dream. What a nightmare!

  26. Those N. Korean look-alike cheerleaders are really "Sheep in Wolves clothing."

  27. It’s unnerving to see these pretty women and have to associate them with the risk of nuclear devastation, making ever finer the line between beauty and horror. The whole world has to make Trump and Kim Jong-un do the right thing. Precisely because these women are so disarming, the two leaders must disarm.

  28. One more thought: only the DPRK needs to send carefully monitored cheerleaders. In other nations, the athletes’ families and friends come and cheer. The cheerleaders’ families are home to act as insurance against defections.

  29. The cheerleaders look just like the “traffic ladies” I saw in Pyongyang in 2008, when I was there for concerts with the Philharmonic. These were heavily made up, very pretty young women stationed at major intersections, gracefully directing the two or three cars or buses per minute that made up downtown traffic. I guess attractive young women performing choreographed gestures demonstrate the vitality of the Democratic Republic of Korea, and how happy the population is under the leadership of the Great Leader, the Dear Leader and now Junior.

    Wish they could feed the rest of their people.

  30. Every thing is synchronized to the point of being scary, they are like programmed robots. They don't instill cheer in me only fear. And given the chance if their minders had their backs turned they'd defect in a NY minute.

  31. I'd like to know, is North Korea paying for all of the expenses for this entourage, e.g, event tickets, buses, hotels and food?

    I would guess if someone pulled a fire alarm in the middle of the night that some of these young women would take the chance to flee.

  32. Don't count on it, these young women are hand chosen for their loyalty, plus if any of them did manage to escaped into South Korea it would be a utter disaster for their family back home.

  33. I wonder, As the song goes;
    "How you gonna keep them down on the farm After they've seen...."
    But with their families under the thumb of a brutal murderer........guess they'll be going back to the dictator after-all .

  34. Reminds me of the nascent 1950s and early 1960s cultural exchanges of the old Soviet Union when sports teams, classical musicians and folk dance groups from different Soviet States were invited to play a local team or perform in communities around the US. All of the athletes and performers were sure to be young, beautiful and extremely talented and were accompanied by grime faced minders who brooked no argument from the young Soviets and discouraged any non-sanctioned interactions with Americans.

    I note that the exchanges were rapidly cooled off or periodically disappeared whenever one of the young model Soviet citizens managed to dodge their minders and defect to the "Decadent Imperialist" West-Which was as often as the young Soviets could swing it.

  35. Clearly, this is all part of North Korea’s theater of the absurd. Yet, the Winter Olympics has provided some respite from the brink of a nuclear conflict and opened new possibilities for negotiated settlement. For both South and North Koreans, this is not a trivial matter. If North Koreans think that sending an army of cheerleaders give them a face-saving way to defuse the tension with the their southern neighbor and the United States, let them feel this way. Just a week ago, we found out that Victor Cha torpedoed his nomination to be Ambassador to South Korea because the Trump Administration asked him about his willingness to evacuate American citizens before the United States carry out a pre-emotive military strike in the absurd strategy of giving North Korea a “Bloody Nose.” South Koreans are choosing to be slightly amused/nauseated by smiling North Korean cheerleaders rather than burying millions of dead at the hands of the other deranged political leader in Washington D.C. Americans should be use to the theater of the absurd by now: for over a year now, we heard about the “biggest electoral landslide,” “the largest turnout for the inaugural,” “the world’s best memory,” “the least racist person” and the list goes on. Putting up with absurd and bizarre political theater is regretably the reality for the next few years in too many places in the world.

  36. The Times should just put a lid on their adoration of all things North Korea. These women are prisoners.

  37. It's an interesting article. I read nothing adoring. Your reading of the article is obviously colored by your love of Trump/Pence.

  38. Pence's ignorant and boorish behavior is an embarrassment to the United States. But if there's anything in which the Trump regime excels, it's embarrassing the United States.

  39. Actually Scott, I could care less about Trump and Pence, although I prefer them to HRC back in the WH or a continuation of the same old Obama non leadership. What I do care about is the unrelenting anti-Trumpism in the mainstream media and in this paper that would lead them to celebrate a tyrant's sister (also has blood on her hands) and criticize Pence. These cheer leaders should be pitied, NK condemned. End of story.

  40. This group of prisoners from North Korea needs our deepest sympathy. North Korea is a terror state that terrorizes its own people before it tries to do the same to the rest of the world. We might be able to laugh them off, but those who live under the iron fist of the government have to do what they are told for fear of being sent, with their families to "reeducation camps". If any of these girls tries to defect, their families will be murdered.
    When we, the western world stands against this corrupt and brutal regime we are standing up for these woman, their families and every other oppressed North Korean, working toward the day when they experience true justice and freedom.

  41. North Korea doesn't seem interested in terrorizing the rest of th world. It's leaders don't want to meet the same fate those in Iraq and Libya.

  42. How much more symbolism can North Korea pack into this olympics?

    The cheerleader squad is obvious, united, speaks with one robotic voice and garners lots of coverage and speculation. There are no individuals, no human interest stories to go with the identical smiles on the faces. They loudly declare their presence yet isolate themselves completely. They celebrate the possibility of unification while eating, sleeping and cheering without any interaction with South Koreans or anyone else for that matter. No, the rest of the world should be over the moon that they actually wave and shout "good-bye!".

    This is the North's well done attempt at keeping the focus on them, to show just how big their "button" really is.

    Unification will only occur if the South agrees to be assimilated into the collective.

  43. Could Trump rent them for his speeches?

  44. You must have missed the SOTU.

  45. Why did South Korean Minders follow the cheerleaders everywhere, including the restroom? Is it so they could be helped instantly if one chose to defect? Is it to prevent defection because it would be embarrassing at the Olympics?

  46. It is a beautiful, yet, strange sight to behold, but we must not be gripped by our fascination and forget that underneath the glamour exists a dark and disturbing force at work to control our perception. This method of control is powerful and no one understands its impact more than the regime. North Korea is not as pretty as it seems.

  47. No one imagines that it is, Bun. I doubt that any reader of this article thinks that North Korea is “as pretty as it seems”.

  48. I wonder where they go after they 'age out'?
    Maybe to the rice fields or a kimchi factory.

  49. If only the North had rice or kimchi.

  50. I have seen this story repeated multiple times. Fiction becomes reality. They are drones, raised from birth, and picked to present a pretty face to the world, for what is a brutal and inhumane dictatorship. Their every move, every expression analyzed for any sign of disloyalty or departure from the party line. Look at their eyes, like dolls eyes. The fate of their loved ones at home depend on their correct behavior and absolute loyalty. Imagine the stress they are going through.

  51. No one will remember them in two weeks....not worth too much print.

  52. Just out of curiosity, how much do YOU remember of the “important” and “serious” news that you read two weeks ago?

  53. Chaplin’s dialogue in The Great Dictator, the speech that talks of machine men with machine minds who enslave you, who tell you what to do what to think and what to feel, was the first thing that came to mind while reading this piece.

  54. I guess since the average North Korean was not allowed to attend the games the North Koreans felt they needed to have their own cheer leading section. I don't think it very nice that news agencies may have gotten some of the girls in trouble for watching forbidden channels on T.V. since punishments can be quite severe for those who break the rules. All in all, I see nothing wrong with having the cheer leaders there other then it would have been nicer if they had shared the spotlight with some male North Korean cheerleaders as well.

  55. Presuming how these women feels is fallacious. People want to assume they feel trapped or constantly endangered but the power of brainwashing and indoctrination from a very early age cannot be discounted.

    To a lesser degree, such processes are done here with our constant veneration of capitalism, money, individualism, the military, Hollywood, etc.

    These women may actually love North Korea and its leaders and see their mission as an important one, however bizarre that may seem to us.

    Assuming how others feel about things can lead to such dangerous missions as the one in Afghanistan or Iraq where we were so certain that the population would welcome democracy and liberalism.

  56. It's nice to see smiling faces, but don't know what to feel or how to feel it; do I worry more about the US Olympic Committee taking 94% of every dollar they collect for themselves while passing on only 6% to our US athletes, or do I worry more about these young North Korean women not being able to get out for a quick meal on the town to do some sightseeing and make some friends across the border?
    Or, do I worry about both, about poor folks being taken advantage of by some truly rotten people? Let's hope for the best and work to make sure it happens, how about that?

  57. Ok, this a North Korean political statement, filled with conformity, order, and oversight. I'm beginning to despair of any American making their own political statement. I guess that none of these rosy cheeked kids from the heartland are going to take a knee during the National Anthem.

  58. These women (girls, really) are brainwashed drones of a tyrant's police state, who do what they do because they've been taught that it's right and they accrue benefits as members of the squad, but also because they know that they and their families will be punished, if they do not perform as expected.

    It's amazing to me that the Times and other media outlets spend so much time lionizing these poor oppressed souls (though they probably don't see it that way themselves, much as abused children will often choose to live with the abusive parent), just as they give space and fawning attention to Jong Un Kim's sister and her "charm offensive."

    Does it not occur to those in the media that Ms. Kim is the Deputy Director of Agitation and Propaganda? Does it not occur to those same media types that they are being played by the North Korean propaganda machine?

    This entire episode, i.e. the Olympics and the coverage in the US of North Korean participation, has and continues to be a black mark on the US media. Can somebody in the media please wake up and realize that they are supporting North Korean propaganda efforts and then, please, stop it?

    Or, is the press colluding with the North Koreans here? Because, that's how it's starting to look!

  59. No, it’s really NOT starting to look like that. Reread the article, it’s not “lionizing” these young women (much less the nation that they are representing), it is merely DESCRIBING what is happening. Moreover, in referring to the minders and the robotic cheering etc., the article could be read as a sharp criticism of the North Korean regime.

  60. If they refuse to cover news then they are propaganda too. This is an interesting article about actual events.

  61. I really don't understand the point of these goodwill ambassadors. The reality is N Korea is synonymous with violent oppression of all that is deemed opposition to the ruling order. A few hundred young persons bedecked with smiles and lovely matching coats are utterly irrelevant.

    I guess it's N Korea's attempt to exercise soft power. As in this, as well as all else, they are no match for the US. We should keep a watchful eye on them, post-Olympics, for their Crimea.

  62. Reading many of the comments here, I can't help but think how many of them MIGHT apply to the FLOTUS...

  63. Something sickening about the pictures of the young seemingly mindless young women. How about some pictures of the handlers?

  64. North Korea is a terrible place that is, for better or worse, trying to engage in some form of ping pong diplomacy. Will this be a repeat of what happened in China fifty years ago when the Cultural Revolution slowly gave way to a rapprochement with the West? Who knows? But unless someone has a better idea, let's see how far this can go. And if Trump needs a war to distract us from Mueller's findings, let him look somewhere else.

  65. Robots.

  66. These women are examples of how you turn a human into a robot. Robots are only driven by commands, and so are these poor women. Opinion or impulse does not compute. I see nothing reunifying about their presence. They are not part of the camaraderie associated with gathering for sport. Spectacle they may be, but really just a distraction.

  67. While the world is being charmed by these human robots, let’s remember the murderers they are fronting for and also lets remember Otto Warmbier who was killed by this regime.

  68. These girls lightened up the mood and Pence stunk it up.

  69. How's the weather in Pyongyang, "Phil"?

  70. I keep thinking of the N. Korean soldier with parasites. I hope someone is slipping these girls and athletes some antibiotics and vitamins. Cheering sounds like a better job than foreign construction sites.

  71. It's a HUGE stretch to call these women "goodwill ambassadors". They seem more like North Korea's version of the Stepford Wives.
    Tightly watched and controlled with zero ability to interact with public except when performing their state-approved cheers, they are merely lipstick on the pig of an oppressive regime.

  72. I would welcome some closer attention on them, personally if permitted, rather than throught the heavy American narrative on Kim Jung-Un's propaganda machine. As odd is the culture to us, focusing in individual North Korean people, is the route to the psychology of effective diplomacy, rather than the dogs of war so livid in out imaginations, and which would, we are told by the President, be ready to bomb such as these.

  73. Trust your eyes. These are hand-picked young women, selected in accordance with what some old North Korean guy's idea is of what might seem attractive to Westerners. That's it.

    Although they're handpicked, they are roundly distrusted, by their own government. Hence the intense chaperoning, and the refusal to permit them any contact with anyone besides their minders.

    So the spectacle is clear: North Korea doesn't trust its own people as far as it can throw them. And living there is so unspeakably horrible that great care must be taken that none of them can escape, or even hear a non-approved thought.

    Thanks for your presentation, ladies; well done.

  74. This the North Korean version of Handmaid's Tale.
    Or maybe they are robots.
    There is something very creepy about the whole thing.

  75. Sad pawns of a repressive regime- bet they did not volunteer and if they go off script there could be dire consequences for their person and family. They deserve our pity. Pence however deserves scorn- I guess Jesus told him to remain seated and disrespect The South Korean President and athletes. And to antagonize Adam Rippon (who is incredibly brave, funny and talented).

  76. I would love to take them to a Ruth Chris Steakhouse and see how'd they react..

  77. Interesting to see all the "lifeless", "non-human", "robotic" comments regarding the cheerleaders. I thought they were talking about Pence.

  78. The fact that this group of cheerleaders is constantly herded around and supervised by their numerous minders says it all. These young women were hand selected for their looks and political connections. They are not free to mingle with the crowd at the Olympics, or any other venues, and they are not free to come and go as they please. What would happen to their families back in North Korea if they were to defect? Among those visitors from the free nations, who would willingly trade places with these cheerleading propagandists?

  79. The media has drawn a ridiculous parallel between what's going on in our country and The Handmaids Tale.

    But somehow has not done the same with these cheerleaders and North Korea.

  80. This brings to mind Leni Rifenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" - propaganda film about Nazi German's Nuremburg rallies. Sure the look today is very different...lipstick and smiles vs. jackboots and swastikas, but the intent is the same - put a picture up that makes totalitarianism appealing. Anyone who cares should read the U.N. report on Human Rights in the DPRK (easily accessible on the internet). Any discussions of how pretty the girls are cannot be separated from a sober consideration of how ugly the system is.

  81. Are we seriously this naïve? I know we elected a reality television personality as POTUS, but I thought that was a fluke. But maybe not. Maybe this is who we've become: the sort of people who will literally believe anything, including something as obviously fake as the smiles on the faces of those poor N. Korean women. How embarrassing!

  82. I see nothing charming about the manipulation of these little girls into propaganda. Sexist propaganda at that.

  83. First it was the mindless Germans and the mindless Japanese. Then it was the mindless Russians and the mindless Chinese. Now it's the mindless North Koreans. Um, folks, these people are human beings. Just because they are not free to express themselves does not mean that they are mindless. With all this mindless stereoptyping it seems that the truly mindless people are a bunch of mindless Americans. I don't like the North Korean government either, but these women are no more responsible for it than you and I are responsible for everything our government does. They can not help where they were born. So while you go around scorning them as mindless robots, I will just appreciate them as attractive women. Although in this day and age, I'll probably get in trouble for that line of thought too.

  84. I'd love to be able to know what the cheerleaders themselves are thinking...what they are FEELING.... to be a part of the REAL world, even for just a few days. When they go back home, will they remember what they experienced...will they allow themselves to think back about it...to wonder if maybe, just maybe, they SHOULD have the right to know more about the rest of the world...to explore...to meet other people?

    And as for that 'American man' who proposed to his girlfriend with the arena's videoboard capturing the entire thing?... that is the ultimate in tackiness, and is so utterly shallow and vapid. Men who make such a public display of their proposing make it all about THEM, and not the actual proposal itself or the woman involved. It's all so people can say 'awe shucks...isn't she so lucky?...what a great guy he is to have gone to such lengths'. Blech.

  85. You are questioning the manner in which a person proposes and you have absolutely no knowledge of that person. Wow.

  86. American response to these cheerleaders is troubling.

    This is not a happy story, nor a story of hope.

    These women are prisoners.
    If they do not perform, they will be sent to camps.
    If they defect, their family will be sent to camps.

    The "disconnect" we see happens because they are given a script that must be followed to the letter, regardless if the events in the stadium fit the pre-written script. Failure to follow the script leads to torture and death.

    Upon rising to power, Kim Jong Un murdered many family members to take full control of the country.

    Do you honestly think he is going to allow peaceful Unification with the South?

    The only Unification he would agree to is full submission of the South to the North.

    Amazing that in this time of the #MeToo movement we can laugh and feel happy about the most oppressed people on Earth.

  87. Apparently North Korea is afraid they will defect after seeing the prosperity in South Korea. I imagine they will be too afraid to say anything when they return home.
    The North Korean leader is getting some positive publicity but is also taking a big risk.

  88. I look at it as Pop Performance Art....and it makes me smile.

    Channeling Matthew Barney?

  89. I was in North Korea - ostensibly to run a marathon, but just made a 10 K.

    We were told not to take photos of folks lining up the streets or intermingle with them.

    I am approaching 70. A young European, I forget his nationality kept me company when we more or less just walked the course.

    With no minders around, we were care free, perhaps too carefree for our own good.

    But we went around the course posing with folks, shaking hands and holding up babies. The Koreans loved it and reciprocated enthusiastically - also as no minders around.

    Of course, not knowing the language, we could not communicate.

    However, we never did ever get to know our minders, they never told us about their families, lives etc.

    Except one - our tour guide. She was very forthcoming about her family, dreams for her son and what he likes. Of course, only when minders were away and really she only knew English or so it seemed.

    I would go with her to shops where only foreigners are are allowed and buy candies and chocolates for her son and cigarettes for her husband.

    At the end of my trip, I left all warm clothes back for her family.

    But, they will never open up to strangers - unless they are away from minders.

    So, these cheerleaders are not a surprise.

    For them, it's once in a life opportunity which may never repeat and they are not going to anything to jeapordize it.

  90. I know, I know, I am supposed to consider them each as separate individuals......

    But to me they are simply robots under the control of North Korea.

    The fact that they have "minders" says it all.

  91. Our fantasies involving robot slaves are fascinating. Fact is, we have no idea what these women think or feel. Wonder what the citizens of Iraq thought of our good will ambassadors? Especially those who experienced American hospitality at Abu Ghraib. Robtots? Demented sadists? What?

  92. Why is South Korea providing minders? If anything, South Korea ought to be dragging these cheerleaders off to spend a few days visiting Seoul, without any North Korean supervision.

  93. One can only imagine the horrors those angelic smiling faces must be masking. No doubt their obedience is guaranteed by the lives of their families and loved ones held securely pending their return.

  94. Don't be fooled. A phony portrayal or illusion of life under the glorious leader. What total control and brainwashing does...chanting "we are one".

    They have zero ability to shape their own lives, to learn about the barbaric reality of life for most N Koreans or determine for themselves what they want to do, study, believe or support.

    Their basic material needs are met and the ministry of propaganda does their thinking for them. One wrong word and it's over.

    This is not life it is a robotic existence in a demonic dictatorship. Truly frightening and truly sad.

  95. There were fewer than 25 N. Korea athletes -- so to make a proper showing, they needed to add some citizens. Over 200 cheerleaders.
    It so resembles the propaganda films of the 1936 Olympics with uniformity and enthusiasm.
    And as to what they were thinking? Perhaps just hoping their families would be rewarded and safe while they participated

  96. To me, it's most interesting to see images of Korean women considered "beautiful" without the aid of cosmetic surgery. Round/square faces with small eyes are a rare sight in the upper echelons of Korean (and Chinese) culture these days...

  97. I find the Koreans to be very inscrutable.

  98. There were 230 - now there are 229 - what happened to the other one?

    In any case: Just watch and enjoy. It's the Olympics. Don't over-think it.

  99. Remember Sochi!? Putin sat quietly and showed good will to the international athletes and the world. Once the Olympics were over, Russia invaded Ukraine!

  100. These girls look an awful lot like the Handmaids Tale...

  101. Consider that even the normally inept North Koreans are winning a global public relations war against the Trump Administration. This should confirm in no uncertain terms the low diplomatic IQ of Trump and his misconceived base.

  102. Winning a public relations war? It sounds like you've been listening to too many speeches by Kim Jong-un.

  103. Set the Stepford Cheerleaders free!