Winter Olympics

North Korea’s Kim Ryon Hwang evokes memories of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards’ Calgary special

The North Korean churned her way down the Pyeongchang course in a time of one minute, 40.22 seconds.

A plucky North Korean skier earned the biggest cheer of the day at the women’s giant slalom Thursday after a display that brought back fond memories of glorious Olympic no-hopers.

Kim Ryon Hwang churned her way down the Pyeongchang course in a time of one minute, 40.22 seconds – just under half a minute off the top times set by Italy’s Manuela Moelgg and American Mikaela Shiffrin.

It was a performance reminiscent of British ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, who stole the hearts of fans around the world with his all-too-brief attempts at getting airborne during the 1988 Calgary Olympics.


Roared on by around 150 of North Korea’s famed “Army of Beauties” cheerleaders sporting red and white puffer jackets and dark glasses, the 25-year-old Kim punched the air as she crossed the line in one piece.

“I was greatly supported by our cheer group,” said the diminutive North Korean.

“I had confidence that North Korea could one day compete in international competition. In the future I hope to be able to win a medal.”

North Korea is said to have just one ski resort, the brainchild of the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, although it is often empty except for the nursery slope, according to media reports.

But the secretive state has sent 22 athletes, including apline skiers, to take part in the Olympics in South Korea as part of a charm offensive after months of bellicose rhetoric and provocative missile launches.

Of the 22, only pairs skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik reached the Olympic qualifying standard with the rest – including slalom skier Kim – getting a special invite.

North Korea’s female cheerleaders have appeared at venues, serenading local fans with nostalgic love songs being “one nation” while waving the blue unification flag.

The skier Kim is set to try again in Thursday’s second run, when she could potentially finish a combined minute outside the top times.

However, in the Olympic spirit embodied by Edwards and Equatorial Guinean swimmer Eric “The Eel” Moussambani, who clung for dear life to the pool rope at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in his first dip in a 50-metre pool, Kim will at least feel the love.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.


The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.