With less than 100 days to go before the 2018 Winter Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea, organizers are pulling out all the stops to promote the event that has so far seen sluggish ticket sales. On Tuesday, PyeongChang organizers enlisted the help of first lady Melania Trump, who after sharing morning tea with her husband and their South Korean counterparts, attended a promotional event, where she lauded the Games and received stuffed replicas of the 2018 Olympic mascots.
While there, Trump also promoted another Olympic campaign, Girls Play 2!, an initiative meant to encourage more young girls to play sports.
“Sport teaches children about teamwork, dedication, discipline, and how to succeed under pressure. When we assure girls and boys have equal access to sports we are ensuring they have an equal chance to gain these valuable skills,” she said (via Inside the Games) at the event held at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Seoul. “Girls Play 2 reminds people that girls love to play sport just as much as boys do.”
“Girls want to play basketball and hockey, and snowboard and ski. Some girls want to become Olympians and many girls simply want to be active and enjoy sport for the fun of it,” added the 47-year-old, who does not appear to have played many sports while growing up in Slovenia.
“As we look forward to the Olympics, I call on all of us to encourage even more girls to play sports,” Trump continued. “Let’s give boys and girls equal access to sports facilities, equipment and to coaches. Let’s remind the world that girls play, too.”
Following her short speech, Trump made her way to a demonstration zone, where middle school girls lined up to practice hitting a hockey puck. It was there where her presence was briefly overshadowed when she was joined by Korean pop star Choi Min-ho, a member of the popular K-pop boy band SHINee. When the girls finally noticed his presence, they began jumping and screaming. Trump smiled at their excitement, gesturing toward the pop star as the moment, caught on tape, instantly went viral in the country.
President Trump and the first lady are currently on a 12-day tour of Asia that has them visiting Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Melania Trump has not been present for many of the more high-profile activities her husband has embarked on, including his Wednesday afternoon address of South Korea’s National Assembly. During the speech, Trump once again took the opportunity to call out North Korea, this time personally attacking its leader Kim Jong Un.
“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned,” Trump said, addressing North Korea’s current leader directly. Referring to Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who established North Korea as a socialist country in 1948, Trump added, “It is a hell that no person deserves.”
The president’s rhetoric comes in the wake of South Korean officials urging North Korean participation in next year’s Olympics after the country qualified its first athletes in September, the figure skating duo of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik.
As of Wednesday, North Korea still had not agreed to let the athletes compete, although a North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee previously expressed hope North Korea would send a contingent south.
“I am quite sure that politics is one thing and Olympics is another thing,” Chang Un said (via the New York Times) in September. “So I don’t see any big problem for the PyeongChang Olympics.”
While Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik remain the only North Korean athletes to have qualified, North Korean short track speed skaters and Nordic skiers are also projected to participate, as well.