02/09/2008, 00.00
KOREA
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Seoul and Pyongyang agree: one group of cheerleaders for the Olympics

After the diplomatic freeze prompted by the election of South Korean conservative Lee Myung-bak, the two countries have begun talking again, deciding to send a single group of cheerleaders to Beijing in 2008.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - After a long diplomatic freeze, stemming from the presidential election of South Korean conservative Lee Myung-bak, the governments of the two Koreas have agreed, for now, on just one point that has remained in limbo since the last bilateral discussions: the cheerleaders to be sent to the upcoming Olympic games.

North Korea, in fact, proposed last year to send a single group of cheerleaders for the Korean Olympic team, which will be presented together in Beijing next August 8th (the date of the beginning of the games).  The proposal remained in suspension after Lee's landslide election: Pyongyang, in fact, had not appreciated the first statements from the newly elected president, who promised an "iron fist" toward the Stalinist regime.

Seoul has communicated its agreement to the plan, but has opposed the idea of also unifying the dormitories for the girls: in this way, in fact, they would have had to endure the supervision of the officials sent to watch over the group by the North Korean foreign ministry.

According to the initial plans, the cheerleaders will travel together by train to Beijing: the train line that runs between Seoul and Sinuiju in North Korea will be reactivated for the occasion.  The first group, composed of 150 girls, will leave with the first Olympic team; the second, another 150, will join the first midway through the games.

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