Dancing in the streets with North Korean athletes

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Published by : CT WEB 2018-02-08 15:46:32

North and South Koreans danced in the streets on Thursday as 22 North Korean athletes were welcomed to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The 22 are taking part in the Olympics following a thaw in inter-Korean relations and include figure skaters, ice hockey players, cross country and Alpine skiers.

The athletes, accompanied by other North Korean officials and band made up of around 80 North Korean cheerleaders attended a welcoming ceremony at the Olympic Village in Gangneung, the venue for all ice events at the Games.

After a stiff and formal start, the mood eased when the dance band struck up a few tunes.

"I was a little scared because they were just clapping and so serious in the beginning," said 15-year-old South Korean volunteer Jeon Moon-kyung. "But later they enthusiastically asked us to dance together."

Her friend Choi Myo-seon added: "For a moment, it felt as if the wall between us had been melted away."

As Pyongyang's national anthem blared across the venue, the North Korean flag was hoisted into the air, fluttering against the wind.

The Pyeongchang Winter Games -- which begin Friday -- have triggered an apparent rapprochement on the divided peninsula, where tensions have been high over the nuclear-armed North's weapons ambitions.

The welcoming ceremony included performances by South and North Korean groups which drew contrasting reactions from the North's athletes.

As the South's break dancing group B-Boy jovially jumped into the crowd of North Korean athletes, they remained stiff, clapping passively and giving occasional smiles.

But the scene shifted when the North's band, dressed in a red and white uniform and each equipped with an instrument from the clarinet, trombone to the tambourine.

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