North Korea flexes muscles ahead of Winter Olympics with military parade
- Author: Ryan Wade Feb 10, 2018,
Feb 10, 2018, 6:02
North Korean military parades typically feature thousands of goose-stepping troops and hundreds of armoured vehicles, culminating with missiles rolling through Kim Il Sung Square - the highlight for Pyongyang-watchers who examine them for clues about the progress of its technology.
As if to steal the thunder, North Korea conducted a military parade Thursday ahead of the games to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the creation of its military.
She is to arrive Friday on a private jet to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games later that day, and will join South Korean President Moon Jae-in for lunch on Saturday, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.
Early on Thursday state TV began showing patriotic films in what appeared to be a prelude to a live broadcast.
The North made conditional demands including renaming the games the Pyongyang-Seoul Summer Olympics, with the opening ceremony in Pyongyang.
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Kim said the parade proves that North Korea "has developed into a world-class military power", CNN reported. But North Korea fiercely rejected the accusations, defending its right to celebrate its military. The problem? Sanctions. "North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing United Nations sanctions" against the two countries, a PyeongChang organizing committee spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.
A military parade took place in North Korea's capital of Pyongyang on Thursday, South Korean government sources said citing information received from the USA military, Japan's NHK reports.
The BBC's Laura Bicker in Seoul says this could provide a diplomatic headache, as Mr Pence will be there with the father of Otto Warmbier, who died after being imprisoned in North Korea.
Ties are likely to be further strained by the presence of Kim Yo-jung, the younger sister of the North Korean leader.
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Security forces cordoned off the area and were searching for possible accomplices of the bomber, the military statement said. Initial reports suggested that the bomber blew himself up in a ground where soldiers were playing volleyball.
Ri, who was 16 at the time, garnered high popularity in South Korea and overseas for her looks, with experts speculating her stardom helped her land favor with North Korea's elite, as well as Kim.
The UN Security Council, which has slapped a series of sanctions on North Korea for its weapons programmes, imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Choe a year ago when he was vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department.
The mood in Gangneung, where anticipation has been building for the Winter Games, was optimistic as the North Korean musicians arrived at their venue for a rehearsal on Wednesday.
Administration officials said they had long expected the North would seek to use the Olympics, taking place just 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the heavily mined Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas, as an opportunity to put a softer face on its regime, and painted Pence's visit as a counterbalance to those efforts.
"We will not make use of sports festivities such as the Winter Olympics for political purposes", he was quoted as saying.
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A total of 2,925 athletes from 92 different countries will compete in these Games, which will take place from February 9 to 25 in PyeongChang in South Korea , the statement added, reports Efe.