North Korean 'Army of Beauties' Cheer Squad and Athletes Will Attend the Olympics Games, Pyongyang Promises

North Korea has agreed to participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in the first breakthrough of talks with South Korea that began on Tuesday at the three-storey Peace House, on the South Korean side of the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

Delegations from North and South Korea have met for the first time in two years after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signaled his intention to discuss participation at the sporting event in his New Year’s address, a message South Korean President Moon Jae-in swiftly welcomed, extending an invitation to face-to-face talks.

Read more: Only one woman is taking part in the inter-Korean talks and she's the leader of Kim Jong Un's favorite band

President Moon has long seen the Olympics as a way to re-establish dialogue with Pyongyang after relations cooled during his conservative predecessor’s government and North Korean missile and nuclear tests intensified.

01_09_Inter-Korean talks Head of the North Korean delegation Ri Son Gwon shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Cho Myoung-gyon during their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9. Yonhap/via Reuters

The South Korean delegation led by unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon came prepared to discuss an agenda going beyond the participation in the games. They proposed the two countries’ athletes march together at the games’ opening and closing ceremony, as well as holding a Red Cross meeting to discuss family reunifications and military talks, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The North Korean delegation headed by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, has agreed to reopen a military hotline with the South on Wednesday, and also to send a team of athletes, cheerleaders and singers, taekwondo fighters and journalists, according to the South Korean deputy unification minister Chun Hae-sung, who spoke at a press briefing on Tuesday, quoted in Reuters.

01_09_cheerleaders The North Korean cheer squad wave national flags at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, on September 4, 2005. At the first inter-Korean talks in two years, North Korea promised to send the squad and athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images

A similar proposal was made for the 2014 Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon, when a 273-strong North Korean delegation took part in the games, but Pyongyang blocked the participation of its cheerleading squad, also known as its “army of beauties” in South Korean media, as The Economist reported at the time.

The cheerleading team, exclusively made up of young, attractive women and teenage girls, are extremely popular in the South—last time the North Korean squad participated at a sporting event south of the border, at the 2005 Asian Games in Incheon, it included 16-year-old Ri Sol Ju, who is now married to Kim.

A year later, athletes from the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, and again at the Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China, in 2007, the last time this display of unity occurred as relations cooled during the past decade, as the Associated Press noted.

North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics will require agreements over a series of logistics issues, such as how to transport the North Korean delegation to the host city, where to accomodate them and who will ultimately cover the bill.

Contradicting some members of his administration, President Donald Trump has expressed support for the inter-Korean talks, telling reporters on Saturday: "If something can happen and something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity. That would be a great thing for the world."