The North Korean military is planning on conducting a large military parade on the eve of the Olympics opening ceremonies which are slated to begin on Feb. 9.
A copy of what appears to be a letter sent from North Korean authorities to defense attaches, seen by CNN, invites them and their spouses “to attend festival functions held in Pyongyang” to mark the 70th anniversary of the formal creation of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) on February 8.
Diplomatic sources in Pyongyang told CNN that defense attaches with relations to North Korea had received invitations to the event.
On Thursday, North Korea analyst website NK News published satellite images believed to show preparations underway in Pyongyang for the event at the Mirim Parade Training Ground.
February 8 and April 25 both have significance for the founding of the KPA. But April 25 has been the bigger date since the seventies, and has been designated Army Foundation Day. Winter parades are also rare, though some analysts attribute this to training schedules beginning towards the end of the year.
Parades in North Korea typically involve choreographed performances involving thousands of individuals.
In negotiations at the Panmunjom truce village on the DMZ, it was agreed the two countries would march together at the Olympics under a flag showing a unified Korean Peninsula. North Korea also agreed to send a large delegation of athletes, supporters and performers.
While many have welcomed the reduction in tensions on a Peninsula which last year appeared to be barreling towards war, some in Seoul and Washington have questioned whether South Korea is giving up too much for too little.
The North Korean government is playing the aggrieved party card claiming that the US-South Korean military drills “serve as a prelude to the aggressive war bringing a nuclear disaster to the Korean Peninsula,” in their state-run newspaper.
So the parade may be just to inject some show of power into the mix.
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