North Korean Olympians have a 24/7 surveillance team who will tackle them if they try to run away

Athletes from South Korea and North Korea marched under the Korea Unification flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony. Getty Images
  • North Korean athletes are subject to round-the-clock security at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
  • Each athlete has a “minder” who will even follow them into the toilet so their whereabouts can be guaranteed at all times.
  • Athletes from North Korea are “separated” from athletes from other nations.
  • North Korea is paranoid that its Olympic stars could defect from the country.

Olympic athletes from North Korea have to put up with extraordinary security measures that includes round-the-clock surveillance and separation from other nations.

A report on CNN indicates that North Korea sent minders to follow its athletes and ensure they do not run away and defect – the process of abandoning one’s country in favour of an opposing one.

Athletes from North Korea and South Korea marched alongside each other at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.

They carried the Korea Unification flag, waved to the crowds, and smiled at the cameras. But away from the cameras there is no fraternising. Athletes from North Korea “are separated from the other athletes,” according to Lee Chul-sung, the South Korean police official in charge of Olympics security.

Additionally, the 500 people sent by North Korea will have been designated three different statuses according to Han Seo-hee, a former cheerleader who defected from North Korea in 2006.

She said there are “party members,” i.e athletes, “administrative members,” who are the officials, and then, more troubling, “security members.”

These security members – likely “minders and informants” – surround the athletes at all times. Their task is to ensure nobody defects because it would be “a huge embarrassment for the North.”

If one of them tried to run away, they would likely be tackled before they could get very far.

North Korean athletes will be followed into the toilet

North Korea athletes
North Korea athletes are under constant surveillance. Getty Images

Traditionally, athletes bunk with their team-mates in two bed apartments in the Olympics village. This is not the case for North Koreans.

No. Olympic competitors from North Korea – housed at the Gangneung Olympics village – will be shacked up with their own minder who will go to extreme lengths, like following them into the bathroom, to guarantee their whereabouts at all times.

In its report, CNN stressed that “defections” would be “unlikely.”