Photo/IllutrationA North Korean player, center, wears a pair of red shoes that apparently bear the Nike logo at a training session for the joint woman’s basketball team for the Asian Games 2018, in Jincheon County of Chungcheongbuk-do province, South Korea, on Aug. 2. (Provided by The Dong-A Ilbo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

SEOUL--North Korea’s top athletes have found ways around the embargo on the nation, based on footwear they are sporting for training in South Korea--sneakers that appear to be by well-known U.S. and Japanese brands.

Female basketball players from the North are currently in South Korea’s Jincheon County, Chungcheongbuk-do province, to train alongside their southern counterparts ahead of the Asian Games 2018, where they will form a unified team.

The North Korean players became the center of attention when media were invited to cover the joint training on Aug. 2, not for their performance, but for the shoes worn by some players branded with logos of U.S. firm Nike and Japanese brand Asics.

Export of products by those brands to North Korea is restricted, and it is not known how the players acquired them.

According to a South Korean government source, the players brought the shoes with them from their homes in the North.

In South Korea, some say the shoes are proof of a loophole in the economic sanctions, while others are speculating that they could be counterfeit copies made in North Korea.

The athletes have been practicing together since Aug. 1, and the training is scheduled to last through Aug. 12.

Nike is the official sponsor of the South Korean team, but the Korea Basketball Association of South Korea has decided to use a different uniform without the sponsor’s logo for the joint squad. North Korean players wearing strips with the Nike logo may constitute a “breach of sanctions against North Korea,” according to the association.

The Asian Games 2018 will run from Aug. 18 through Sept. 2 in Indonesia.