The North Korean regime is preparing large-scale celebrations to mark the anniversary of the founding of the country’s military.
According to Voice of America, commercial satellite images show Pyongyang’s central Kim Il-Sung Square covered in red waves held up by a large crowd, as well as three dimly lit yellow letters in the middle.
The images suggest the North is gearing up for a large-scale celebration for the anniversary of its military, which typically involves showing off the country’s military force.
Traditionally, the regime has celebrated the founding of its military on April 25th, although last week they abruptly announced that it would be changed to February 8th to celebrate former dictator Kim Il-sung’s Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in 1934.
Six ballistic missiles were paraded during last April’s “Day of the Sun” celebrations, while marching bands, synchronized dancers, and goose-stepping soldiers also filled the square.
The upcoming celebrations coincide with joint efforts by both North and South Korea to improve relations through the Winter Olympics. The two countries are planning to field a joint women’s ice hockey team at the Winter Olympics and parade together under one flag in a potentially symbolic step following over 60 years of separation.
South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung Gyon assured that the parade would not interfere with joint Olympic efforts, describing it as an “internal North Korean event.”
“It has nothing to do with the Pyeongchang Olympics—the dates just happened to coincide,” he said. “It’s an event in response to internal demand in North Korea, not something that’s suddenly being staged to target the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.”
Last week, North Korea called for total unification with South Korea, stating that although military tension on the peninsula presented a “fundamental obstacle” to negotiations, they would seek to “promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea.”
Yet on Monday, the North suddenly canceled a joint “cultural event” with South Korea, about “biased” and “insulting” coverage from South Korean media, mainly aimed at concern over the North’s military parade.
“The North, in the notice, said our press was fanning public opinion that insults the North’s sincere efforts made for the Pyeongchang Olympics and even took issue with the North’s internal celebratory event, leaving the North no choice but to cancel the agreed-upon event,” the Unification Ministry said in a statement.