With two weeks to go for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, North Korea's inclusion in the global sporting event has been a cause for concern for many. Confirming suspicions voiced by conservative critics, a former North Korean spy has issued warnings that Kim Jong-un should not be trusted.
Kim Hyon-hui was responsible for orchestrating the Korean Air Flight 858 bombing in 1987 which killed 115 people. The agent confessed that Kim Jong-un's father Kim Jong-il ordered the attack in an effort to sabotage the presidential election and the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
She was sentenced to death for her role in the attack but was later pardoned by then South Korean president Roh Tae-woo who pointed out that the then 27-year-old had been brainwashed.
"North Korea thought that hosting the Olympics would permanently divide the Koreas... and make South Korea more economically powerful than the North. So I was ordered to harm the 'South Korean puppets' by hitting the flight," she told NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt.
Today, she believes Kim Jong-il's successor will use the Olympics in Pyeongchang to distance South Korea from the US.
"North Korea is using the Olympics as a weapon," Hyon-hui said. "It's trying to escape the sanctions by holding hands with South Korea, trying to break free from international isolation."
Aside from showing off its athletes' skills, North Korea is looking to flex some of its military muscle as well.
In what is being seen as a bid to steal the Olympics' spotlight, Pyongyang has announced that it has moved forward the celebrations to mark the 70<sup>th anniversary of the founding of its regular army. According to Japan Times, the anniversary was previously set for 25 April with a massive military parade but this year, has been shifted to 8 February, one day before the start of the sporting competition.
"At Mirim airfield, 13,000 soldiers and some 200 vehicles were spotted preparing for the parade," a South Korean government official told the Yonhap news agency citing satellite images of an airfield near Pyongyang.
"Last year they rolled out several new rockets and then proceeded to test them one by one," Shea Cotton, a North Korea expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, said, adding that he would be surprised if they decided to downplay the parade this year.
"They met some pretty big milestones last year and so I think they'd want to show them off especially with the whole world watching."