North Korea’s cheering squad arrive for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

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South Korean people take photographs of members of the North Korean cheering squad at an expressway service area in Gapyeong. (Yonhap via Reuters)
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Members of North Korean cheering squad walk at an expressway service area in Gapyeong, South Korea. (Yonhap via Reuters)
Updated 07 February 2018
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North Korea’s cheering squad arrive for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

SEOUL: A group of 280 North Koreans arrived in South Korea on Wednesday, one of the largest peacetime crossings of the inter-Korean border, to spur on athletes from the two Koreas at the Winter Olympics starting Friday.
The delegation, made up mostly of a 229-member cheer squad, reached a border checkpoint by bus at around 0030 GMT, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
In addition to the cheering squad, there were 26 taekwondo performers, 21 journalists and four North Korean Olympics committee members, including Sports Minister Kim Il-guk, the Unification Ministry said.
After security controls the group left for the Olympics venue in the alpine resort town of Pyeongchang.
At a rest stop along the way, female members of the cheer squad, all donning black fur caps, red coats and ankle boots, waved and smiled at reporters who were trailing them.
“Hello, hello!” one said, giggling shyly before getting back on her bus.
Their arrival comes a day after a North Korean ferry crossed the border carrying a 140-strong orchestra to perform during the Games.
Members of the orchestra were seen leaving the vessel for rehearsals at Gangneung Arts Center early on Wednesday, wearing the same outfits members of the cheer squad were seen in.
When one reporter asked whether they were fully prepared, one member quipped: “You’ll know once you see. It’s no fun if I tell you everything now,” according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.
The orchestra is scheduled to perform at Gangneung, near Pyeongchang, on Thursday and in Seoul on Sunday.
Aside from the sports officials, the group will be housed at Inje Speedium Hotel & Resort, a four-star luxury hotel roughly two-hours drive from the Olympic venue in Pyeongchang.
Days before the group’s arrival, workers at Inje Speedium had placed banners around the premises welcoming the North Koreans, reading “We are one” and “welcome.”
Police have been deployed to enforce safety at the resort.
The taekwondo performance team is scheduled to hold four shows during their stay in South Korea. Two demonstrations will be held near Pyeongchang, while the team will travel to the capital Seoul for the remaining two.
After the art troupe arrived on Tuesday in a ferry, which is also being used as accommodation, North Korea has asked South Korea to provide oil to refuel the vessel, the Unification Ministry said on Wednesday.
Oil is a sensitive item and has taken center stage in global efforts to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, with Washington calling for a drastic cut in energy supplies to the isolated country.
North Korea has virtually no domestic oil production, and has traditionally imported its fuel demand from China and Russia.
In December, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on the North, seeking to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to the country by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year.
“There was a request for oil support during our discussions with the North after the ship arrived, and we’re reviewing it now,” ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a news briefing in Seoul.
Asked about concerns that South Korea was making exceptions to the sanctions, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it was important not to let up pressure.
“We must not be fooled by North Korea’s ‘smile diplomacy,” he told a news conference in Tokyo.


‘Fighter’ Zidane as good a coach as he was a player, says Klopp

Updated 17 sec ago
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‘Fighter’ Zidane as good a coach as he was a player, says Klopp

  • Jurgen Klopp: “If a lot of people think Zinedine Zidane doesn’t have much knowledge of tactical things — because a lot of people think that about me — that would be really funny.”
  • Zidane’s detractors see him more as a supervisor of a supremely talented squad rather than a tactical genius.

KIEV: Jurgen Klopp is in no doubt that Zinedine Zidane has shown himself to be as good a coach as he was during a wonderful playing career, as the two men prepare to lead their Liverpool and Real Madrid sides into Saturday’s Champions League final.
“If a lot of people think Zinedine Zidane doesn’t have much knowledge of tactical things — because a lot of people think that about me — that would be really funny,” Klopp told media at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium on the eve of the game.
Zidane finds himself in a position to win a third Champions League title despite only becoming Real coach in January 2016.
If he does that, the 45-year-old would equal Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti as the only coaches to have won the European Cup three times.
Despite that, Zidane’s detractors see him more as a supervisor of a supremely talented squad rather than a tactical genius.
Klopp, who arrived at Anfield in October 2015, added: “Zidane for me is one of the best five players of all time in football.
“Since two and a half years now, I am longer at Liverpool than he is at Real Madrid and he can win for the third time the Champions League.
“You have to expect he is brilliant, like he was as a player. His players and him seem to work like a clock from Switzerland.”
While Zidane was a Champions League and World Cup winner as a player, Klopp’s own playing career in his native Germany was modest.
The two have taken different paths in the game, having come from very different backgrounds.
“Zinedine Zidane was his whole life a fighter growing up in Marseille in the area where he has grown up, and to have his kind of career, you need to be a fighter,” said the German.
“Only when he was a player, he didn’t look like that.
“I saw his face when someone asked him in a press conference about hunger, and he got angry — the same would happen to me and I am from a small village in the Black Forest.”
Klopp and his captain Jordan Henderson faced a huge gathering of media in the Ukrainian capital on Friday along with Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.
All of them appeared relaxed ahead of the game, as they hope to secure Liverpool’s sixth European Cup, and a first since the unforgettable defeat of AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005.
To do so Liverpool must end Real’s reign as European champions as the Spanish giants go for a 13th European crown in Kiev.
“We’ve done fantastically well to get to this point,” Henderson said.
“We want to go one step further and be remembered for the right reasons and that is winning the Champions League.”
Liverpool’s return among the European elite is largely attributed to Klopp’s impact as manager.
However, the German has lost his last five finals, including the Europa League final in 2016 when Liverpool lost 3-1 to Sevilla.
And Henderson believes the English giants can use the pain of that defeat for a different outcome against Madrid.
“It hurt that night, but you can use that as motivation going forward and we’ve done that since that night.
“But it’s also important for us to win trophies and hopefully we can start that tomorrow.
“The club have won the competition a few times so it is the DNA of the club to win trophies. We want to win the trophy for fans and the club and we’re certainly going in the right direction.”