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North Korean ice hockey players arrive at the South Korean national training center in Jincheon on Jan. 25.   © Reuters
The Big Story

North Korea's Olympians skate cautiously into the spotlight

Hastily assembled united hockey team sparks intense scrutiny -- and mixed feelings

KENICHI YAMADA, Nikkei staff writer | North Korea

SEOUL -- A week before the opening ceremonies, a huge North Korean flag -- about as high as a three-story building -- was hoisted in the Olympic Village in Gangneung to welcome the country's athletes and officials. It was a rare sight in South Korea, since flying the red, blue and white flag is legally banned in the country. And the gesture attracted fierce criticism in some quarters, reinforcing a conservative narrative that the Olympics have become a "Pyongyang Games" for North Korea.

South Korean media have been covering every move of the 22 North Korean athletes since they entered the country. For their part, North Korean reporters film the local media with Sony cameras held up by shoulder straps made by Samsung Electronics.

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