Kim Yo-jong

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Kim Yo-jong’s go to to Pyeongchang mesmerised the crowds

It seems North Korea’s chief Kim Jong-un does not want to fireside off a missile to get the world’s consideration. He has quite a few way more highly effective weapons in his arsenal: his feminine envoys.

And on this newest so-called appeal offensive, he saved the most effective for final. His sister.

Kim Yo-jong mesmerised South Korean audiences. As she strode into the presidential palace carrying a handwritten word from her brother, each element was scrutinised stay on tv. Her sparkly high, how she wore her hair, every small gesture. The information networks even determined to debate her freckles, slightly than point out that she is on a US blacklist for human rights abuses.

You could possibly nearly really feel the ripple of pleasure as she walked into the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Video games in Pyeongchang. Necks craned and cell phones had been held aloft to catch a glimpse.

I discovered myself, together with others, leaning so far as I may over the balcony to attempt to see her within the VIP field under. The faces across the stadium all mentioned one factor. She’s right here. On South Korean soil.

She has given the secretive regime a human face.

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Media captionKim Yo-jong introduced President Moon Jae-in with a folder holding a handwritten word from her brother, the chief of North Korea

“It is unusual and wondrous. I’ve by no means seen a North Korean earlier than,” one younger man tells me.

“My coronary heart is melting,” says one other.

Pyongyang’s PR queen

However let’s not overlook, Kim Yo-jong is a Pyongyang’s PR queen. She is the grasp of her brother’s picture, and on this event, she has mastered the media’s portrayal of her nation.

“To see a member of the Kim household within the flesh like that’s so uncommon for South Koreans that it is not shocking they had been fascinated by her,” explains Jean Lee, former Pyongyang bureau chief for the information company Related Press.

“But it surely does additionally present how savvy the North Koreas are,” he says. “They despatched their prettiest ladies. Frankly whenever you go to North Korea, you will have these guys who’re drop lifeless beautiful. They’ve advised me typically that their job is to seduce us, in order that in flip we’re like, the nation and the folks, they are not that unhealthy.”

The seduction started a number of weeks in the past as North Korea despatched the previous lead singer of Moranbong, an all feminine music group. Hyun Track-wol sashayed via Seoul to discover a venue for her arts troupe to carry out.

Once more, extra point out was fabricated from her fur stole than the truth that solely 5 months in the past North Korea carried out its newest nuclear take a look at.

Then got here the famed “military of beauties”. This group of girls, handpicked for his or her attractiveness, expertise, and loyalty to the regime stepped off the bus in single file in matching black fur hats, crimson coats and ankle boots.

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Pyongyang’s cheerleaders, dressed to impress

Closely guarded, most merely smiled as reporters tripped over themselves to attempt to get close to them.

In looks-conscious and skin-care obsessed South Korea, these younger North Korean ladies are held up as examples of pure magnificence or innocence and it seems to have prompted a sting of nostalgia within the older technology. One of many group’s most well-known members is Ri Sol-ju who joined when she was 16 and finally grew to become the spouse of Kim Jong-un.

‘Fighters on the frontline’

One North Korean defector advised me it was her job to exit and conquer with a smile. Han Search engine optimisation-hee is a former member of each the North Korean cheerleading squad and the humanities troupe.

“We had been supposed to advertise the Juche ideology (North Korea’s ideology of socialist self-reliance). We had been fighters on the frontline. We thought we had been going into the center of the enemy to point out how proud we’re. We had been to point out that we had been higher than others. I used to be fairly proud and assured and I believed that was what we had been going to do.”

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Media captionNorth Korean ‘cheer staff’s’ superb assist

Han Search engine optimisation-hee needed to depart North Korea as a result of her brother defected. If she’d stayed she and her household may have ended up in jail. She enjoys the liberty she has in South Korea as she recollects the three months of ideological coaching she went via along with her fellow performers.

“We had been advised we shouldn’t be shocked and shocked by the unknown world and that we should not overlook our house nation even for a minute. We should not overlook that we’re there to honour Basic Kim.

“A few of my fellow performers mentioned that as a result of they did not wish to overlook their homeland they’d seize a handful of earth to place of their suitcase. One other packed a portrait of Kim Jong-il (the daddy of the present chief) wrapped in a crimson silk scarf in her bag.”

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Anti-North Korea protesters display in opposition to the arrival of their artwork troupe

This type of idolisation of a frontrunner is alien to South Korea’s youthful technology who will not be so simply seduced by North Korea’s arrivals.

Protests sprung up on social media by an outraged group of their 20s and 30s who felt that South Korean President Moon Jae-in was improper to combine North Koreans into the ladies’s ice hockey staff. The president’s recognition scores haven’t absolutely recovered.

‘Like a non secular cult’

And the tradition hole grew to become obviously apparent throughout the ice hockey match itself.

The South Korean cheerleading group on the Olympics had rehearsed attractive routines to the track Uptown Funk in mini skirts and knee excessive boots whereas waving pom poms. However the rows of North Korean cheerleaders under them appeared nearly oblivious to no matter pop or rock hit was booming across the stadium.

In matching crimson tracksuits their efficiency consisted of quirky hand actions and chants all achieved in excellent unison. Their conventional songs had been about uniting the Motherland. “We’re one” was the cry.

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North Korean cheerleaders have been the centre of attraction on the Pyeongchang Olympics

Han Search engine optimisation-hee feared the cheerleaders may be seen as a curious spectacle. She remembered an incident in 2003.

“When the cheerleaders arrived in South Korea it was raining and Kim Jong-il’s portrait on the principle flag bought moist. The entire group of cheerleaders had been horrified and got here out of the bus and gathered across the image to guard it. South Koreans had been fairly shocked to see this behaviour as a result of it seemed like a non secular cult.

“It solely served to spotlight the variations between the South and the North.”

Political Scientist Ian Bremmer famous on Twitter that “N Korea’s cheering squad is an incredible spectacle. However they’re human hostages of a felony regime. It is probably the most heartbreaking factor we’ll see on the Olympics”

It appears North Korean’s energy to seduce has its limitations.