Seoul: More than 200 North Korean cheerleaders sporting matching scarlet coats and pelt hats arrived in South Korea on Wednesday to root for athletes from both sides of the peninsula at the Winter Olympics.
The 229 young women were among a 280-member delegation who crossed the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas at the Dorasan border post north of Seoul.
Each donning the same coat and dark hat worn by the North's art troupe, who arrived the previous day, the cheerleaders were jovial as they piled through the South's immigration control, exchanging comments with a horde of South Korean journalists.
"I am happy to see you," said one, beaming broadly.
Asked about their cheering routines, she joked: "You just wait. If I tell you now, it would be less exciting when you see it."
The cheerleaders are reportedly the product of a careful selection process, screening for their family backgrounds, looks, skills and loyalty to the ruling Workers' Party.
The North has sent such cheerleaders to three international sports events hosted by the South -- the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the 2003 Summer Universiade in Daegu and the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon.