Gov't Refuses to Invite N.Korean Cheerleaders

The government has no plan to invite North Korean cheerleaders to the Asian Games in Incheon starting on Sept. 19, despite demands from the ruling party here to press for their dispatch.

"There is no change in our position that we would welcome North Korea's decision to send a cheerleading squad," a Unification Ministry official told reporters. "But we're not going to ask them."

The official added, "We're well aware of the potential positive effects, but we're not convinced that public opinion would entirely favor them."

After talks about the North's participation in the Games broke down last month, North Korea announced it would send no cheerleaders at all since Seoul took issue with the size of the proposed contingent and refused to foot their bill while in South Korea.

But Saenuri Party leader Kim Moo-sung told reporters Thursday that a visit from North Korean cheerleaders would be a "good opportunity" for inter-Korean exchange and easing tensions.

Kim accused the government of incompetence for not seizing the opportunity.

He said the government was "narrow-minded" in applying strict international standards for the upkeep of the North Korean cheerleaders, forgetting the political benefits of their visit.

Pyongyang earlier wanted to send 350 cheerleaders to the Asian Games but asked South Korea to foot the bill.

Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok said in a radio interview that the issue goes beyond money and that there are "fundamental differences" in the positions of the two Koreas about visit from the cheerleaders.

But the ruling party chief said differences "can be resolved" and the city should do everything to make the sporting event successful.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 05, 2014 12:28 KST