Inter-Korean cheering team established for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Posted on : 2018-02-03 16:30 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Team will support athletes at 11 different events, including unified Korean women’s hockey team
Participants of the inter-Korean cheering team hold a banner that says
Participants of the inter-Korean cheering team hold a banner that says

An inter-Korean cheering team has been established to direct support for South and North Korean athletes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The joint cheering team was officially launched at a press conference on the afternoon of Feb. 2 at the Gamyeong historic site (which was a provincial government office during the Joseon Dynasty) in Wonju, Gangwon Province. Attendees holding Korean Peninsula and signs with messages such as “Make Pyeongchang a stepping stone to unification! Let’s go!” affirmed their commitment to making the Olympic games a festival of peace.

“With tensions continuing on the Korean Peninsula, we have formed our first unified South and North Korean team in 27 years,” team director Lee Chang-bok said in an address.

“Let’s cheer athletes from South and North on to the fullest so they can show their capabilities,” he urged attendees.

Lee went on to say that “nothing has yet been clearly decided” in terms of interchange with North Korea’s cheering squad, adding that it “seems like we would be able to meet at the venues and shout chants of support together.”

The joint team plans to cheer at a total of 11 events, including matches by the unified women’s ice hockey team and competitions in snow sport events by North Korean athletes.

“The launch ceremony for the joint cheering team is a first step toward a ‘Peace Olympics,’” said Lee Seon-gyeong, head of the team’s steering committee.

“Hopefully, the Pyeongchang Olympics will be an opportunity for inter-Korean relations to improve and get the ball rolling in resuming inter-Korean exchanges,” Lee said.

Applications to take part in the team have been coming in not only from Gangwon Province but all over South Korea. Participants represent a broad range of backgrounds and age groups, including small children and adolescents, university students, people who fled to South Korea from the North during the Korean War, and religious followers. The current team size is around 670 people. With different competitions admitting different numbers of cheerleaders – including 30 for ice hockey and 100 for snow sport events – the team size is estimated to reach around 760 members.

Recruitment and management for the team is being handled by the Gangwon chapter of the South Korean Committee for the June 15 Joint Declaration. The chapter previously organized a joint inter-Korean cheering team to cheer for North Korean players at the Apr. 2017 Women’s Ice Hockey World Championship in Gangneung.

By Park Soo-hyuk, Gangwon correspondent

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