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North Korea holds military parade on eve of Olympics

Friday, February 09, 2018

Seoul: North Korea staged a military parade in Pyongyang today to mark the 70th anniversary of its armed forces, putting its intercontinental ballistic missiles on show just a day before the Winter Olympics open in the South.

The nuclear-armed North is on an Olympics-linked charm offensive -- sending a troupe of performers, hundreds of female cheerleaders, and the sister of leader Kim Jong Un to South Korea.

But regiments of soldiers goose-stepped in formation through Kim Il Sung Square today, followed by trucks, artillery, tanks and finally four giant Hwasong-15 ICBMs -- as well as a band forming the Korean word for "Victory".

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

Fireworks went off as leader Kim Jong Un took his place on the rostrum to watch the display, along with his wife Ri Sol Ju and the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam -- who will head Pyongyang's delegation to the Olympics tomorrow.

"We ... Have become capable of showcasing our stature as a world-class military power to the world," said Kim, wearing a long black coat and black fedora.

The military should remain on high alert to ensure that invaders could not violate the North's sovereignty "even by 0.001mm", he said.

"Long live!" cried the assembled troops, their breath condensing in the subzero temperatures and some of them in tears at the sight of the leader.

Analysts say that with the dual approach, the North is looking to normalise its status as a "de facto nuclear state", and could be trying to weaken sanctions against it or drive a wedge between the South and its ally the US.

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