"It is a tough situation to have our team be used for political reasons, but its kind of something that's bigger than ourselves right now," Reuters quoted head coach Sarah Murray as saying this week.
Citizens of Asia's fourth-largest economy have taken to social media to complain of Pyeongchang Olympics turning into "the Pyongyang Olympics."
(Duyeon Kim is a fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum, a Seoul-based think-tank.)
In response, Moon's administration has said that it believes the games "will be a stepping stone to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula." But the negative sentiment has already hit the president's popularity — a Realmeter poll on Thursday showed his ratings dropping to the lowest level since he took office last May, according to Yonhap.
"The Moon administration is going overboard to accommodate North Korea," Lee said, adding that Moon was "probably overreaching in seeking North Korea's denuclearization.
If this was the first example of North Korean outreach, Moon's optimism would be justified "but we've seen this movie several times before," Lee continued, referring to Pyongyang's previous attempts at sports engagement. North Korean cheerleaders have frequently attended sporting events in the South, including the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the 2003 Summer Universiade in Daegu and the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon.
Kim's latest olive branches — recent inter-Korean discussions and Thursday's call for unification — don't indicate a change of heart, according to Lee. "All of this was pre-planned," he said, explaining that Kim is simply trying to please Seoul in order to obtain more aid payments, which in the past exceeded $900 million a year.