North Korean figure skaters wow at Pyeongchang Olympics
North Korea's figure skaters made their debut at the Winter Olympics on Wednesday with a personal best score that saw them through to the next round.
Ryom Tae-ok, 19, and Kim Ju-sik, 25, performed their routine to a Jeff Beck cover of The Beatles song A Day In The Life and received the biggest applause of the day from the crowd inside the Gangneung Ice Arena.
They scored 69.40 which at the time put them in second place behind the Olympic Athletes for Russia on 70.52, though later performances meant they finished in 11th.
That was still enough to see them through to the free skating round, however, and topped coach Bruno Marcotte's hopes that they would make it into the top 12.
Ryom Tae-ok, 19, and Kim Ju-sik, 25, made their debut in the figure skating for North Korea on Wednesday, scoring a personal best of 69.40 which was enough to see them through to the next round
Ryom and Kim performed to a Jeff Beck cover of The Beatles, A Day In The Life, and received the biggest applause of the day inside the Gangneung Ice Arena
The pair are the only North Korean athletes to qualify for the Games solely on merit and are therefore the only ones to be competing under the North Korean flag
Ryom gestures to the crowd during her routine, which was described by viewers on Twitter as 'electric'
'If they reach the top ten, then that would incredible,' Marcotte told the BBC earlier in the day, though it seems that dream will have to wait a little longer.
After their performance they waved to international media but did not stop for questions as they were rushed back to their dressing room. A statement issued later said they were grateful for the support of the Korean people.
Ryom and Kim are the only two North Korean athletes to make it to the Pyeongchang Olympics solely on the basis of merit, and as such as they only two competing under the country's flag.
North Korean ice skaters are also competing, though under a unified Korean flag after being merged with the South Korean team.
The figure skaters originally qualified for the Olympics in September last year, but almost missed out on the Games when North Korea's National Olympic Committee missed the deadline to register them, CNN reports.
The North Koreans almost missed out on the Games after North Korea's National Olympic Committee missed the deadline to register them, but were allowed in at the last minute
Coach Bruno Marcotte said it would be 'incredible' for the pair to reach the top 10 in the preliminary event, and while they narrowly missed out on that target, they made it through to the next round
Kim Ju-sik hides his face in his hands as Ryom Tae-ok cheers after judges awarded them a personal best score in the pair skating short program event on Wednesday
The North Koreans received the loudest applause of the day from the crowd but were escorted to their changing room without speaking to international media
While the skaters were cheered from all sections of the crowd, none were more enthusiastic than the North Korean cheerleading squad who waved flags and performed choreographed chants
But after a dramatic thawing of relations between the two Koreas, the International Olympic Committee extended the deadline for North Korea registration.
The pair will now go on to compete in the long program on Thursday.
While support from Ryom and Kim came from all parts of the crowd, none were more supportive than the North Korean cheerleading squad, who have become a show unto themselves over the past few days.
Dressed in their instantly recognisable combination of bright red winter coats and white hats, the squad waved North Korean flags and chanted on their athletes from the stands with choreographed routines.
The squad also gave their backing to South Korean duo Kim Kyueun and Alex Kam, who scored a disappointing 42.93 after Kim took a heavy fall during the routine.
Earlier in the week Alex and Kim had shared a tender moment backstage as the pair posed for a selfie together.
Alex uploaded the image, in which they are both flashing the peace sign, to his Instagram, with the message: 'With my bro from up north woo hoo let's go! #pyeongchang2018 #jonsnow #theyhateuscausetheyaintus.'