Global

North Korea stages military parade ahead of Winter Olympics

North Korea stages military parade ahead of Winter Olympics

North Korea will have 22 athletes competing at the Pyeongchang Games, but the total number of North Koreans crossing the border is more than 500.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched on as tanks and thousands of troops staged a military parade on Thursday, marking seven decades since the formation of the country's armed forces.

Unlike the North's last parade in April 2017, state television did not show the event live, instead airing it hours later.

South Korea's political opposition is objecting to the rapidly evolving d├ętente between Seoul and Pyongyang and could stage a boycott on Thursday ahead of the first performance of North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra.

"We have never begged for dialogue with the United States and it will be the same going forward", it reported, citing Cho Yong Sam, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry.

Pence, who is leading the USA delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea later this week, says to Abe that aside from which group of athletes they will be cheering for at the games, "I expect we'll be agreeing on just about everything else".

The high-profile delegation of North Korean politicians is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Friday for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Neither Kim Yo Jong nor Kim Yong Nam are among the North Korean officials blacklisted under United Nations sanctions over the North's weapons programmes, but the US Treasury Department previous year included Kim Yo Jong on its list of blacklisted officials over her position as vice director of the ruling Workers' Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department. One of Kim's close aides, Choe Ryong Hae, and Kim Yong Nam were also in attendance.

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Experts say North Korea was expected to showcase its long-range missiles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also delivered a speech celebrating the country's military prowess. Hundreds of cheerleaders, a taekwondo team and an orchestra are also travelling from North Korea.

Live footage posted online showed a much less grand affair than the parade in April a year ago to mark the 105th birthday of the country's founding father Kim Il-sung.

"It looks like North Korea had potential reaction from the global community in mind and toned down the scale and message of the event a lot", said Lim Eul-Chul, a North Korean studies professor at Kyungnam University.

Samsung announced last month that it would be providing the special edition smartphones "as encouragement to do bigger things at the Olympic Winter Games".

The Winter Games will take place from February 9 to 25. The worldwide sanctions could bar Olympic organizers and sponsors from providing North Korean athletes with certain perks that hundreds of other Olympians will receive.

North Korea often holds parades to demonstrate its military might and technological advancements, but this parade was of a lower scale than past demonstrations, according to the AP.


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