08/16/2012 12:15 EDT | Updated 10/16/2012 05:12 EDT

North Korea's Olympic athletes get heroes' welcome at home after best finish since Barcelona

PYONGYANG, North Korea - Thousands of North Koreans have turned out with cheers and banners to welcome their country's Olympic medallists home from London.

North Korean athletes won four golds and two bronzes to finish 20th in the medals standing. It was the country's best performance since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Olympians waved bouquets from a bus as they paraded through Pyongyang on Thursday before laying the flowers at the statues of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. North Korean athletes routinely credit the country's leaders for strong performances.

Sports are hugely popular in North Korea, and its Olympic medallists are treated like heroes. Mun Un Ju told The Associated Press she followed the Summer Games avidly on TV and came with her family to wish the winners well.