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Blaze of music, colour kicks and ‘Gangnam Style’ welcome17th Asian Games

Asian games ceremony

Fireworks explode from the roof of the Asiad Stadium during the opening ceremony for the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South KoreaAP9_19_2014_000148BIncheon: North Korea were welcomed to the Asian Games today to the strains of “Gangnam Style”, their athletes and officials gave a polite smile but put up a wall of stony silence in return.

North Korean athletes looked on blankly as breakdancers performed to the international hit by South Korean star Psy.

Their Singaporean, Chinese, Thai and Yemeni counterparts smiled and took pictures as dancers spun to the tune that has inspired more than two billion YouTube views. Only one North Korean woman dared the slightest handclap.

In contrast, the North Korean delegation belted out the words to their national anthem, “Aegukga”, or Patriotic Song, as the isolated state’s flag was hoisted in the athletes village along with those of the other new arrivals.

It was a unique occasion as normally anyone waving the North’s flag or singing “Aegukga” in South Korea could face arrest under Seoul’s strict national security law.

North Korea’s presence has been one of the main talking points ahead of the Asian Games, which officially open in Incheon on Friday.

Their athletes and officials, mobbed by journalists at the flag-raising ceremony, appeared to be under instruction to stay tight-lipped. A couple of burly minders were on hand to fend off persistent reporters.

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