- Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
- North Korea was preparing its delegation for the Olympics well before Kim Jon Un announced his desire to partake in the Winter Games.
- North Korea was already going through the process of selecting its cheer squad before the end of 2017.
- But Kim only publicly announced the country’s desire to participate in the Olympics on January 1, 2018.
North Korea was planning to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics well before its leader Kim Jong Un announced his desire to do so on New Year’s Day.
Daily NK, a Seoul-based operation staffed by North Korean defector journalists, reported that the government began recruiting potential cheer squad members for tryouts in 2017.
“Materials related to the selection of the cheering squad were already published internally by the end of last year,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK.
But Kim’s first public announcement on the Olympics came on January 1, 2018, when he said in a televised address he was “open to dialogue” about the Games.
Following the official talks between North and South Korea, state-run North Korean media ran the official decision that North Korea would participate on January 10, 2018.
North Korea’s use of recruitment materials in 2017 supports previous speculation that the country must have been preparing its cheer squad – and, by default, its Olympic delegation – for months.
“It’s about preparing a group of young people to go into what North Korea sees as ideologically hostile territory and be on show for the world’s media and for the South Korean public,” Andray Abrahamian, a North Korea expert at the Griffith Asia Institute and a research fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS, previously told Business Insider.
“Leaving it late, and correctly guessing that Seoul would be receptive to North Korean participation, also leaves less time for opposition to the plan to develop. Regardless, this participation isn’t a recent idea. I’m sure Pyongyang has been sitting on it for months.”