The North Koreans may be putting on the greatest charm offensive in their nation's history, in an effort to convince South Korea that they're ready for political unity — or at least a kinder, gentler relationship — but it's South Korea and the International Olympic Committee that's footing the bill for their Olympic adventure.
According to The Wall Street Journal, North Korea has sent its largest delegation ever to the Olympics — a 500-strong group that includes athletes, government officials, cheerleaders, performers, and chaperones — but none of them have paid their own way, and the bill they've stacked up is staggering.
On Wednesday, the government of South Korea had to approve an emergency spending plan that allocated around $2.7 million in resources to pay for the North Koreans' hotel and food bills, and they're anticipating having to throw even more at merchants that North Korea might have stiffed. And that's just for the officials and chaperones; the IOC is covering all of the North Korean athletes' expenses, letting them live, rent-free, in the Olympic Village.
The North Korean delegation is making no effort at cost-cutting, either. According to the WSJ, the creepy congregation of cheerleaders are all staying at a five-star resort and spa called Inje Speedium, just outside of the Olympic Village. And while they sleep two to a room so that they can spy on each other, each room costs an average of $330 per night, and they need at least 120 of them.
Kim Jong Un's sister and her entourage spared no expense, either. They stayed at the posh Grand Walkerhill Seoul, a five-star hotel in the heart of the South Korean capital, taking up more than 100 rooms (she traveled with the North Korean national orchestra, who "spent a few nights" playing a hall as part of a "cultural exchange").
The South Koreans are fine with the imposition, however, and not just because North Korea has been skipping out on much larger bills for decades. The WSJ reports that the South Koreans feel safer with the North Koreans participating than not. The last two times South Korea has hosted an international competition, the North Koreans have blown something up, killing South Korean citizens.