Watch North Korean Cheer Squad That's Creeping out Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are officially underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and much has been made over the presence of North Korea at the games. In addition to athletes, the country has also sent a squad of cheerleaders, who have been making waves on social media since their arrival.

The Straits Times reports that the squad, which is referred to as the “army of beauties,” is 229 women strong. The squad wears matching outfits and performs cheers in extremely precise fashion, chanting phrases like “Go for it, go for it, our players, go for it!” and "Nice to meet you!" in their native language.

Chosen based on criteria including family backgrounds, looks, skills and loyalty to the ruling Workers' Party, the cheerleaders must be over 1.6 meters tall, or about 5’3.” Women with family members who have defected or are missing cannot qualify as they pose a potential risk of defection. Often, the members are chosen from universities in Pyongyang, especially schools focusing on music and dance.

A squad had not been sent abroad since 2005 when the group went on a university tour. The Tapei Times reported that when the women returned, 21 members were sent to a prison camp for discussing what they had experienced in the south.

The Washington Post notes that the squad's performance could be serving as a larger propaganda ploy by North Korea, with their precise and shiny performances serving to distract from the political issues surrounding the games, as well as North Korea's treatment of its citizens.

Their first appearance at the Pyeongchang games came during the joint women's Korean hockey game on Monday and provoked divided reactions from those watching. Audience members held up their phones to capture the team, while many on social media expressed a feeling other than sheer interest.

The New York Times reports that the cheerleaders are never alone, and are led in and out of arenas by minders who prevent the women from interacting with strangers. They go to the restroom in groups, and travel on buses accompanied by police cars.

Photo Credit: Getty / Ed Jones