A cheering squad of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) crossed the inter-Korean land border to South Korea Wednesday for the 23rd Winter Olympics set to kick off later this week, Seoul's unification ministry said.
The 280-member DPRK delegation, including 229 cheerleaders, crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) dividing the two countries at about 9:26 a.m. local time (0026 GMT).
Also included in the DPRK delegation, led by Sports Minister Kim Il-guk, were four officials of the National Olympic Committee, 26 demonstrators of Taekwondo, a traditional Korean martial art, and 21 journalists.
The DPRK cheerleaders, wearing a red coat and a black fur hat, walked into South Korea through the inter-Korean transit office, according to photos provided by the South Korean press corps.
It would mark the first time in 13 years that DPRK cheerleaders root for both South Korean and DPRK athletes in an international sports event hosted by South Korea.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are set to hold an opening ceremony Friday at South Korea's eastern county of PyeongChang.
The DPRK had sent its cheering squad, composed of hundreds of cheerleaders, to the 2002 Asian Games, the 2003 Summer Universiade and the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships, all of which were hosted by South Korea.
During the inter-Korean talks in January, the DPRK agreed to dispatch its athletes, cheerleaders and ranking officials to the South Korean-hosted Winter Olympics.
Seoul and Pyongyang also agreed to march together under a unified Korean flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and cheer together for both athletes. The two sides planned to field a joint women's ice hockey team, the first inter-Korean Olympic team.
The DPRK already dispatched a 46-member delegation, including 22 athletes, and a 140-member art troupe to South Korea. The Samjiyon orchestra will hold concerts Thursday and Sunday to celebrate the Winter Olympics.
The high-ranking delegation, led by Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, will visit South Korea from Friday to Sunday.
Three delegates and 18 supporting officials will be included in the DPRK delegation, according to Seoul's unification ministry.