- Damir Sagolj/Reuters
- Pyongyang changed the date of a key military anniversary from April 25 to February 8, and they appear to be readying a military parade.
- North Korea appeared to rewrite its own history to justify a military parade the day before the opening of South Korea’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
- North Korea has launched a massive propaganda push ahead of the Olympics, and it could possibly spell trouble for the US and South Korea.
North Korean media said on Tuesday that it has changed the date of the founding of its army from April 25 to February 8, spurring speculation that Pyongyang will stage a military parade the day before South Korea’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opens.
Historically, North Korea has observed April 25th as the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s founding of the Korean People’s Army, often launching large military parades on that day and carting mobile ballistic missile launchers down the main road in Pyongyang.
But despite the reversal and its coincidence with South Korea’s Winter Olympics, there is historical precedent for observing the anniversary on February 8.
Jean H. Lee, who opened the Associated Press’ Pyongyang Bureau in 2012 and is currently a global fellow at the Wilson Center, pointed out on Twitter that the first-ever parade of a force called the “Korean People’s Army” took place on February 8, 1948.
Lee cites Kim Il Sung’s founding of anti-Japanese forces called the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army on April 25, 1932 as the cause for the usual anniversary being observed in late April.
On April 25, 2017, North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the army’s founding. If North Korea holds a parade on February 8, it could commemorate 70 years since the founding of the Korean People’s Army.
North Korea expert Jeffrey Lewis and NK News have both reported that satellite imagery indicates a military parade is in the works.
A series of satellite images of Mirim airfield taken by @planetlabs over 26 December-1 January show that North Korea is preparing for a massive military parade. (1/2) @T_Hamm @rsimmon @DaveSchmerler pic.twitter.com/eDv0YorAqK
— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) January 17, 2018
North Korea often launches missiles before or around the important dates celebrated in parades. It uses the event to showcase its ballistic missiles, which often proves fruitful for missile analysts.
Even Kim Hyon-hui, a former spy for North Korea who blew up a South Korean passenger jet in 1987 for the Kim regime, has cast doubt on Kim Jong Un’s intentions in sending athletes and representatives to Pyeongchang. “North Korea is using the Olympics as a weapon,” she told NBC.
The country often uses displays of its military might to intimidate its neighbors and the world. As the world gets closer to the Winter Olympics, it looks increasingly like Kim Jong Un is trying to hijack them for his own propaganda purposes, and to possibly set a trap for the US.