A North Korean defector studying in Australia says she will watch the Winter Olympics in South Korea with mixed emotions.
Twenty-two athletes from North Korea will compete in Pyeongchang, representing their country in ice hockey, ice skating and ski events.
Ann* has recently finished an intensive 30-week English course at the University of Technology, Sydney.
She defected from the DPRK to Seoul when she was younger, and has been in Sydney on a scholarship.
Two weeks ago, her relatives in the North tried to make escape across the border but failed, and she recently heard they died.
"It's a tragic story. But it's not only my story. [It is the story] of all the defectors who are living in South Korea," she said.
But for Ann, the Winter Olympics was a symbol of hope, and she vows to one day use her new English skills to push for unification.
"When the first time I found out that news [of North Korea's participation], I was so excited," she said.
"And my expression was like, 'Wow! This is going to happen'."
Ann said the excitement around tonight's event reminded her of a time in the early 2000s when a visit by North Korean cheerleaders to South Korea was broadcast on television.
"They looked pretty and all the South Korean people were curious about their looks and all their attention was gathering around them," she said.
"I watched on TV. All my parents and friends were gathering and we were talking about how they looked.
"Not only cheerleaders, but we talked about South Koreans, how their skin is white and why they are so interested and their outfits."
The entry of North Korean athletes into this year's Winter Olympics was announced earlier this year.
It was the result of months of careful and persistent diplomacy behind the scenes with authorities in the hermit kingdom, according to a New York Times report.
'I feel pity actually'
Ahead of the opening ceremony, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un put on a display of his nation's might with thousands marching in an extravagant military parade.
But Ann said her experiences as a defector had given her new perspective on such displays.
"I feel pity actually about it, and also the people who participate in those events, it was really hard to make that happen," she said.
"Because one of my uncles went to that parade when I was young, and he told me to organise all those things in perfect harmony they woke up really early and there was no free time.
"So I don't think about all the military activity as 'Oh, that's going to be scary'.
"I am just scared for the people participating and how they've been struggling to make it happen. Even without their willingness to."
Having now completed her 30-week study scholarship in Sydney, Ann will travel back to Seoul next week.
She said despite the horrors of what it was like living North Korea, Australia's landscape did remind her of her hometown.
"I was so happy [during the] last 30 weeks, because sometimes it reminds me of my hometown in North Korea, even though I had a really unpleasant memories," she said.
"My parents were not rich, to raise us to give us meals every day, but all the nature things like clean sky and birds singing."
*Ann's name has been changed to protect her identity