North Korea military parade ahead of Winter Olympics

Written By: BBC/Hunja Macharia
1224

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North Korea appears to have held a low-key military parade, a day ahead of the Winter Olympics, South Korean media said.

The annual event is usually held in April, but Pyongyang hit back at US criticism of its decision to bring it forward.

State TV began showing patriotic films in what appeared to be a prelude to a live broadcast.

But reports later surfaced that it had already taken place.

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“It seems that North Korea opened the parade at 10:30 a.m. (Seoul time),” anonymous government sources told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

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On Thursday, North Korea said it has no intention of meeting US officials during the Games, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.

South Korean government officials had said last month that some 13,000 troops and 200 pieces of equipment had been spotted near an airport in Pyongyang in what appeared to be a rehearsal for the parade.

Experts say North Korea was expected to showcase its long-range missiles.

This year’s celebration will mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army, which was established on 8 February 1948.

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Pyongyang previously held its main military celebration on 25 April.

The military parade comes just one day before the start of the Winter Olympic Games, which will run from 9 to 25 February in the alpine town of Pyeongchang in South Korea.

Kim Yo-jong the sister of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un is to attend the games, which will see both Koreas march under one flag at the opening ceremony.

US Vice-President Mike Pence will also be attending the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang on Friday, saying he wanted to “make sure North Korea doesn’t use the powerful symbolism in the backdrop of the [Games] to paper over the truth about their regime”.

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The main organiser of the Pyeongchang Olympics has said that the parade will not affect the “dynamics” of the Olympic Games.

Lee Hee-beom added that all 193 UN member states, including North Korea, have supported the UN Olympic Truce Resolution for the Winter Games.

Under the truce, which begins seven days before the opening of the Winter Games and runs until the seventh day after the closing of the Winter Paralympics, all UN member states are urged to stop all hostilities.

 

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