NATIONAL

[PyeongChang 2018] Locals infuriated over NK cheerleaders wearing ‘Kim Il-sung masks’

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : Feb 11, 2018 - 13:15
  • Updated : Feb 11, 2018 - 13:15
Members of the public have voiced outrage after seeing North Korean cheerleaders don masks appearing to resemble the North regime founder Kim Il-sung at the women’s joint hockey team’s first game against Switzerland on Saturday.

Korea’s joint hockey team suffered a tough defeat against No. 6-ranked Switzerland 8-0 at Kwandong Hockey Center in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. South and North Korea are ranked Nos. 22 and 25, respectively. They were given special permission by the International Olympic Committee to combine teams for these games.

During the match, spectators witnessed the crowd of North Korean cheerleaders donning “male masks looking exactly like Kim Il-sung,” sparking controversy online. 

North Korean cheerleaders wear masks at the inter-Korean women’s hockey team’s match against Switzerland at Kwandong Hockey Center in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Saturday. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was in attendance at the hockey arena Saturday, accompanied by North Korea‘s nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam, Kim Il-sung’s granddaughter Kim Yo-jong and other members of the high-level delegation. 

Following a barrage of reports on the controversial masks, the Ministry of Unification announced Sunday: “Any media reports on the masks’ resemblance to the North’s late leader are due to ‘flawed interpretations.’”

“We (North Koreans) are banned from expressing or portraying our late leader in such a way,” a member of the North Korean delegation said.

More and more local residents, however, are beginning to question whether the Winter Games have turned into “Pyongyang Olympics” rather than the PyeongChang Games.

By Catherine Chung (cec82@heraldcorp.com)