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North Korea’s athletes and cheerleaders under close watch so they don’t defect

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North Korea's athletes and cheerleaders under close watch so they don't defect
They might look like they’re having a whale of a time, but they’re under strict instructions to stay put (Picture: Kyodo)

North Koreans that have crossed the border into South Korea for the Winter Olympics are constantly being watched to ensure they don’t defect.

As well as athletes competing under the joint Korea team, the north has sent a squad of perfectly synchronised cheerleaders and various officials to the Games.

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But they are being closely monitored to ensure they return to their home nation, CNN reported.

Security guards are reportedly on a 24-hour watch and have strict orders to ensure there are no defectors.

Han Seo-hee, a former cheerleader who defected in 2006, told the network it is unlikely any cheerleaders will follow her lead during what is a high profile visit.

North Korea's athletes and cheerleaders under close watch so they don't defect
Taekwondo fighters from the north (white trousers) are also under close watch in South Korea (Picture: Getty)

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She said: ‘I wouldn’t have even considered it.

‘It will be the same for the cheerleading squad this time. They have family back home, they know if they defect, their family will be terrified and punished.’

North Korea’s 500 citizens that travelled to Pyeongchang for the Games are all sharing their rooms with minders.

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They will be followed everywhere – including to the bathroom – so they cannot escape.

Athletes have defected before, such as an ice hockey player in 1997 and a judo competitor in 1999.

But it is thought to be unlikely that any will try to escape during this year’s Olympics as doing so would cause great embarrassment to Kim Jong-un.

Original Article

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