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North Korea Crisis

North Korea may hold military parade on day before Olympics open

Event could reinforce Pyongyang's claim to nuclear arsenal despite dialogue

SEOUL -- North Korea appears to be readying a military parade for Feb. 8, a day before the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean People's Army.

Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday that South Korean officials spotted over 12,000 soldiers, 50 units of artillery equipment and other material being moved to Pyongyang's Mirim airfield, in what suggests preparations for a parade.

South Korea's government said such an event likely would occur Feb. 8, the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army.

In 1978, North Korean founder Kim Il Sung decided to mark April 25, 1932 -- when the anti-Japanese forces were established -- as the army's founding day instead of the official date of Feb. 8, 1948.

But his grandson, current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seems to prefer the latter date. He also noted the 70th anniversary in his New Year's address Jan. 1.

The parade, if held, could serve to display Pyongyang's determination to hold on to its nuclear weapons and missiles even as the country engages in inter-Korean dialogue.

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