One of the standout performances from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has been the North Korean cheering squad. A former cheerleader from the smiling “army of beauties” who defected to South Korea talked to the BBC and described the ideological training that went into becoming part of the squad.

“We were not just there to cheer, but we were told to go into the heart of the enemy,” said Han Seo-hee in a Thursday interview.

The cheering squad, a curiosity at the games, was dubbed the “army of beauties” by western media. Hundreds of women were sent to the Games from North Korea to cheer on the country’s 22 participating athletes. They’ve been spotted in the stands cheering in unison and singing. Han said that the women receive intense training before they are sent out of the country.

“We were separated for different kinds of psychological training,” said Han. “We were told we should not be surprised or shocked by another world. In particular, the training's focus was that we shouldn't forget our home country, not even for a minute. And we also shouldn't forget that we were there to honor [then-former leader Kim Il Sung].”

Despite its small athlete count, North Korea’s delegation at the game numbered in the hundreds and included North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who invited the South Korean president to Pyongyang, North Korea, for talks. 

The cheerleaders are seen as part of a North Korean charm offensive to win diplomatic points on the world stage. Despite being technically still at war with South Korea, North Korea decided to participate in the Olympics at the last minute. Olympic organizers and South Korea officials had feared that the country would attempt to disrupt the games. The last time South Korea hosted the Olympics in 1988, North Korea blew up a plane full of South Koreans in order to spread fear about attending the Games. 

North Korea has made the world uneasy after a year of continued ballistic missiles and a nuclear weapon test. North Korea has piqued American fears by demonstrating the theoretical ability to strike anywhere in the continental U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile. President Donald Trump and North Korea spent last year lobbing threats and insults at each other.

A media backlash took place after an initial set of laudatory headlines in the first week of the games comparing Kim Yo Jong to people like Ivanka Trump. Vice President Mike Pence who was in Pyeongchang as part of the U.S.’s delegation to the Games has been particularly critical of North Korea, pointing to systematic human rights violations by the country. To underline his point, Pence brought Fred Warmbier as a guest to the Games.

Warmbier’s son, Otto, was imprisoned in North Korea after allegedly stealing a propaganda poster in North Korea as a tourist. Otto Warmbier was detained and sentenced to hard labor. He was returned to the U.S. last year in a coma and after suffering severe brain damage and died days later.