Olympics / Winter Olympics / Speedskating

Short-track speedskater Choe Un Song, North Korea’s first Pyeongchang competitor, eliminated in 1,500-meter heats

AFP-JIJI

North Korea’s first competitor at the Pyeongchang Olympics got a big cheer at short-track speedskating Saturday but failed to qualify for a shot at the gold medal.

Cheerleaders from North Korea let rip in support for Choe Un Song but he was eliminated in the 1,500-meter heats and the 25-year-old failed to qualify for the semifinals.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence turned up at the Gangneung Ice Arena to see the evening’s race program watched also by around 100 North Korean cheerleaders, all dressed in red.

The cheer squad earned a round of applause from the South Koreans in the crowd for singing “North and South Korea are one” when Moon and Pence arrived, giving the crowd a wave before taking their seats.

Choe is among a group of 22 athletes from across the border taking part in Pyeongchang after an easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula. A delegation of more than 500 North Koreans is attending the Winter Games.