North Korea’s cheerleading squad, known as the “army of beauties”, made an unexpected appearance at South Korea men’s ice hockey game against the Czech Republic on Thursday.
This is the first time that the North Korean cheerleading squad makes an attendance to an Olympic event not featuring a North Korean athlete.
Despite the support of the “army of beauties”, South Korea lost the game 1-2, however, the hosts gave an impressive debut scoring first at the 7th minute.
North Korea’s cheerleaders are here, 200 of them, for South Korea’s first men’s Olympic hockey game in history. No North Korean players on team. pic.twitter.com/e9W9EaP8JX— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) 15 February 2018
White, red and blue
According to a report by Reuters, at least 150 cheerleaders filled an entire section of the Gangneung Hockey Centre arena.
Wearing white, red and blue outfits, the “army of beauties” promptly broke into song, waving white and blue unification flags.
A unified Korea women’s ice hockey team is competing in the Games, featuring players from both North and South Korea.
However, the men’s team is compromised only by players eligible for South Korea, including half a dozen Canadians who have been playing hockey in the country for years and have acquired the South Korean citizenship.
Impressive South Korea debut
On its Olympic debut, the South Korean team was edged out by the Czech Republic 1-2.
Nevertheless, considering that the Czech Republic is one of the gold medal favorites, South Korea, ranked 21st in the world, gave an impressive first match.
Within 7 minutes and 34 seconds, the hosts scored the first goal. With an assist by Brock Radunske, forward Cho Min-ho managed to place the puck into the Czech Republic’s net.
“This was huge,” Korean coach Jim Paek, the first Korean-born player in the NHL and a Stanley Cup winner, told Reuters. “First night in the Olympics. First game ever in the Olympics. First goal scored in the Olympics. It was a fantastic night for sure.”
Today saw South Korea take to the ice in the start of the men's ice hockey in @pyeongchang2018 Winter Olympics, & if you were lucky, you might of caught sight of @PanthersIHC legend and Stanley Cup winner Jimmy Paek on the bench #jimmypaek #legend #winterolympics pic.twitter.com/U8QzOrjPWX— Ice Locker (@Ice_Locker) 15 February 2018
However, South Korea’s lead lasted only four minutes, as the Czech Jan Kovar tapped in a pass from Michal Repik, beating the local’s goaltender Matt Dalton.
Later in the first period, Jan Kovar scored Czech Republic’s second goal.
During the second and third periods, the two teams exchanged shots, but neither resulted in goals.
“It was tough, they played a really good game,” Czech captain Martin Erat said of the Koreans. “A lot of energy and the crowd was behind them so it was a great game for them.”
This is the first time since 1994 that the Olympic tournament is being played without NHL players, since the League and the International Olympic Committee failed to agree the traveling terms.