North Korea staged a military parade in Pyongyang Thursday, in a show of strengthjust a day beforethe Winter Olympics open in the South.
The nuclear-armed North is on an Olympics-linked charm offensive — sending a troupe of performers, hundreds of female cheerleaders, and the sister of leader Kim Jong Un to South Korea.
But footage posted online from Pyongyang Thursday showed truckload after truckload of soldiers being driven away from the city centre after taking part in the parade, with cheering onlookers lining the streets, followed by tanks and other armoured vehicles.
Unlike the North’s last parade in April 2017 its state television did not show the event live. But a Seoul government source told AFP: “We have learned that North Korea staged a military parade at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang.”
Analysts say that with the dual approach, the North is looking to normalise its status as a “de facto nuclear state”, and could be trying to weaken sanctions against it or drive a wedge between the South and its ally the US.
North Korea is under multiple sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have seen it develop rockets capable of reaching the US mainland.
Pyongyang last month announced it would commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military on February 8 — changing the date from April 25 and switching it to the day before the Games’ opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.