PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- An hour before the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a group of North Korean cheerleaders drew the attention of South Korean spectators with a short yet impactful chant: "We are one."
With the Korean Unification flag -- a blue Korean Peninsula against a white background -- behind them, they chanted the slogan symbolizing their hopes for unification of the two Koreas, during their cheerleading practice at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.
Clad in red jackets, the 229-member group, consisting mostly of women in their 20s, practiced dancing to a number of songs that they prepared to root for their national athletes and other players, including those representing the South.
Pyongyang has sent 22 athletes to compete in five disciplines, including 12 women's hockey players who are part of a single team with South Korean athletes.
As if to show their longtime training, their actions looked well-coordinated and synchronized. Though their voices were muffled by noise from the audience, they struck a chord with some of South Koreans who have also hoped for harmony among Koreans.
The cheering squad crossed the heavily fortified border into the South on Wednesday. They had since stayed in their quarters in Inje, close to PyeongChang.
Some conservatives here have cautioned that the North might try to use their presence as part of its charm offensive to blunt international sanctions.
A group of North Korea cheerleaders attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea's alpine city of PyeongChang on Feb. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)