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Brawl of words on North Korean cheerleaders
JULY 19, 2014 07:26  
Everyone knows who Lee Hyo-ri is. Good looks, a talented dancer and singer, she is an icon of Korean society, who has made men pine for her quite a lot. Then Jo Myeong-ae? If she does not come to mind soon, then the person ignorant of her is too young to remember what happened 10 years ago, or does not feel the appeal of a beautiful woman. A member of the North Korean State National Art Troupe, she came to South Korea for a festival of performances to wish for reunification of the Korean Peninsula ahead of the 2002 Busan Asian Games, drawing attention for her beauty. In 2005, she appeared in a mobile phone commercial with Lee Hyo-ri.

It is very strange. There have been as many as three times when North Korean athletes came in large contingents to the South, for the 2002 Busan Asian Games, the 2003 Daegu Summer Universiad, and the 2005 Incheon Asian Athletics Championships, yet not many remember which athletes came and what their results were. Rather than athletes, only the female cheerleaders who received the spotlight for their comeliness come to mind. North Korea could have thought deploying attractive females would be effective in lowering the guard of South Koreans.

Talks on the issue of having North Korean teams of athletes and cheerleaders at the upcoming 2014 Incheon Asian Games have fallen through on July 17 working-level inter-Korean talks without an agreement. The North is saying South Korea is demanding the following of international protocol of self-responsibility for expenses for athletes and the cheerleaders and claimed the South is not letting them use a large North Korean flag and the Korean Unification Flag. South Korea has footed the bill for the North Korean sporting delegation뭩 stays in the past. The North Korean side has threatened to fundamentally review participation in the Asiad. On the other hand, South Korea expressed regret and said North Korea is being unreasonable, making accusations of "a Cheong Wa Dae directive," et cetera. North Korea wants to know why former practice is not followed, while South Korea appears to be of the position that it cannot agree to that.

The coming Incheon Asian Games is a good opportunity to soften the chilled inter-Korean relations. Yet if both Koreas engage in complex political calculations, it could backfire. North Korea needs to stop trying to use beautiful women to charm South Koreans and demonstrate a changed stance. For one thing, it should stop lobbying missiles. Even with a renewed cast, another TV show on North Korean women for the fourth time would be no fun.

Editorial writer Han Ki-heung (eligius@donnga.com)

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