Saturday 25/05/2019 - 11:53 pm

North Korea holds military parade ahead of Winter Olympics

2018.02.08 03:00

North Korea has held a military parade attended by leader Kim Jong-un, a day before the opening of the Winter Olympics in the South.

The North often boasts of its parades but reports of this surfaced afterwards with TV only airing delayed footage.

This event is usually held in April and moving it had been seen as a setback to the warming of ties over the Olympics.

But the South announced on Thursday its president would meet the Norths Olympics delegation on Saturday.

Moon Jae-in will have lunch with the 22-strong team, which will include the Norths ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of Kim Jong-un who will become the first member of the ruling dynasty to visit the South. Both were at the parade.
What do we know about the parade?

Early on Thursday state TV began showing patriotic films in what appeared to be a prelude to a live broadcast.

But delayed and unscheduled footage of the event only appeared on TV in the North at 17:30 local time (08:30 GMT).

The parade was reportedly smaller than recent years and the footage showed Kim Jong-un inspecting troops, alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju. There was the traditional goose-steeping and a show of heavy weapons.

Mr Kim said the North had become a "world-class military power".

The annual parade, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Peoples Army, is normally held in April and this was the first time in 40 years it had been given a February date.

Such parades are often given a much higher profile. In 2017, North Korea aired a live broadcast of its military parade on state television. Foreign journalists were invited to cover the event.

South Korean government officials 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.
What was on show?

The main interest came at the end when the big missiles were rolled out.

The Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile was on show but it was the sight of four Hwasong-15s that caught the eye of observers. Both were being paraded for the first time.

It was the testing in November of a Hwasong-15, which with its range of 13,000km (8,077 miles) could reach any part of the continental US, that sparked a new round of sanctions.

Dave Schmerler, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said an interesting point was that the parade did not show anything that was untested, unlike some previous events.

Why hold the parade now?

The North had insisted on the event, despite criticism from the US and others about its timing - a day before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, which run from 9 to 25 February in the mountain town of Pyeongchang.

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