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Former North Korean 'Cheerleader' Shares about the Purpose of the North Korean 'Army of Beauties'

  • Leah Hickman Contributor to
  • Published Feb 21, 2018
Former North Korean 'Cheerleader' Shares about the Purpose of the North Korean 'Army of Beauties'

Even at the Olympics, sometimes the biggest stories happen on the sidelines. In this year’s Olympics, one of these stories centers around the team of North Korean cheerleaders that dominate the sidelines of events during North Korean competitions.

As CNN explains, these “cheerleaders” are a part of a “large delegation” sent by the North Korean government to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Although not technically “cheerleaders,” this group of 200 young women is attending the games to sing and dance in celebration of the 22 North Korean athletes and their nation. These women are also referred to as an “army of beauties.”

One former North Korean cheerleader who defected several years ago, recently spoke with the BBC about this army. In her interview, Han Seo-Hee explained that these women are “not just there to cheer” but also to “go into the heart of the enemy” by promoting North Korean values. They’re trained to remember their supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, and act for his honor while also resisting the novelties of South Korean culture.

As Han Seo-Hee mentions, these women likely see South Korea as a wonderful fantasy world, basing their view on TV dramas. To ensure against the lure of this exciting new place, these women were “vetted and trained” before the trip to make sure they would not escape during their time in the south.

Chosen from among some of the highest ranking North Korean families, the cheerleaders serve as “public emissaries for an isolated and repressive regime,” explains CNN. The women are forbidden from sharing about their experiences in South Korea once they return to North Korea.


Leah Hickman is a 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College’s English program. She freelances for and has written pieces for multiple Hillsdale College campus publications as well as for and the Discover Laura Blog. Read more by Leah at

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/eggeeggjiew

Publication date: February 21, 2018