North Korea holds anniversary military parade, South Korea says

North Korea held a large military parade early on Saturday to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ Party, South Korea’s military said.

North Korean state media has not shown any signs of a parade, but images were picked up by South Korean intelligence. It was unclear whether the early morning activity was a large parade or a practice. The anniversary is often used to showcase military power.

“There was a sign that North Korea conducted a military parade this morning at Kim Il Sung Square, mobilizing large scale equipment and personnel,” it said in a statement.

“South Korea and US intelligence authorities are closely monitoring developments, including for the possibility that it was the main event.”

Commercial satellite imagery over the last few weeks has shown thousands of North Korean soldiers practicing marching.

Missile launch planned?

International observers speculated that the anniversary could be used for leader Kin Jong Un to make a statement domestically or to foreign powers. South Korean officials also expressed fear the North could use a parade to unveil a new intercontinental ballistic missile, or a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Foreign diplomats in Pyongyang have often been invited to observe past celebrations. But the Russian Embassy said on social media that all diplomatic missions have been advised this year to “refrain as much as possible” from traveling in the city, approaching the event venue and taking photos and videos.

It is unknown what effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the highly secretive state. Pyongyang closed its borders eight months ago to try to protect itself from the virus, which first emerged in neighboring China, and has yet to confirm a single case.

ed/aw (AP, Reuters)

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