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North Korean Cheerleaders
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Okay, this is just sick.

The 300 statuesque beauties of the North Korean cheerleading squad bounded up the stairs of a soccer stadium here, prompting ecstatic applause from the South Korean crowd. Wearing outfits that were part Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, part Red Army, the women, who were handpicked and rigorously trained under the auspices of the North Korean government, strode to their places and flashed matching smiles.


Even as North Korea squared off in a six-nation summit over its nuclear weapons program in Beijing last month, the cheerleaders, gushing with expressions of love for their “dear leader,” Kim Jong Il, were winning the admiration of millions here through poignant TV coverage and adoring newspaper headlines. Smitten South Koreans traveled hundreds of miles to offer roses and serenades to the “Beauties from the North,” as one headline called them.

Remember this the next time someone talks about how softheaded and gullible Americans are.

“They give me chills of excitement,” said Park Seung Jin, a 27-year-old restaurateur who came to the games just to see the women. “We are one nation divided by foreign powers. These women help us to see Korea as one. ... North Korea is no longer my enemy. It is not South Korea’s enemy either.”

Yeah, they give me chills too, but for a different reason.

Opposition leaders in the South say they are shocked by what they call public and official indulgence of the North. For instance, while the red carpet was rolled out for the North Korean cheerleaders, the South Korean government cracked down on anti-Pyongyang protests during the games in Daegu, the South’s third largest city, about 200 miles southeast of Seoul.

Hundreds of South Korean riot police prevented a group of demonstrators from burning a North Korean flag in one of Seoul’s main business districts Aug. 29. After the same group succeeded in burning the North’s flag on Aug. 15, Roh apologized to the North.

Hell, maybe the South Koreans would be happy to be unified under Kim Jong Il's police state rule.

South Korean officials say they are simply staying in step with public opinion. Take the North Korean cheerleaders, whose trip was paid for by the South Korean government: They excited the crowds with a bizarre mix of scripted propaganda and old-fashioned, coquettish femininity. One minute they were shouting out one-word cheers such as “SKILL!” “TECHNIQUE!” “FOCUS!” and waving North Korean flags.

Probably a lot more of a crowd pleaser than "STARVATION!" "TORTURE!" and "OPPRESSION!".

But they were emotional off the field as well. During the games, the women were shown on television overcome after passing a welcome poster hung by local residents that depicted the North Korean president shaking hands with former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung. The cheerleaders cried hysterically, insisting the poster was haphazardly mounted on street lights and hung too close to the ground. Pouring out of their bus, they ran a quarter of a mile to retrieve it. “How could you treat our dear leader this way?” one sobbed on camera.

The bewildered South Korean residents who had hung the banner expressed their regret to the girls. “We’re sorry. ... We didn’t know they would feel this way. I guess we must recognize how different our two cultures still are,” one resident said on local television.

Yeah, one of you is a dysfunctional police state, and the other is damn near an appeaser and coddler of a dysfunctional police state. If only you could bridge your social differences.

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