SEOUL – North Korea announced on Tuesday that it would celebrate the Korean People’s Army founding anniversary on Feb. 8, one day before the start of the Winter Olympics in the South Korean resort of PyeongChang, a move which could compromise recently improved bilateral relations.
The Politburo of the North Korean Workers’ Party said that on Feb. 8 it would commemorate the 70th “KPA Founding Anniversary” when the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung, transformed the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army into the national armed forces in 1948, according to an article published by North Korean state news agency KCNA.
The announcement confirmed reports that Pyongyang was preparing events for the celebration, including a possible military parade.
Satellite images taken between December and January showed large deployments of tanks and other vehicles at an airport near the Pyongyang, in what appear to be rehearsals for a large military parade.
A spokesperson for the South Korean ministry of defense told EFE that it has not yet been determined whether or not there would be a parade, but that Seoul and Washington would deploy all their active reconnaissance assets to continue monitoring military movements in North Korea.
Such a parade on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics could jeopardize the recent detente in peninsular relations, after both sides agreed on North Korea’s participation in the Games.
North Korea is expected to send dozens of athletes and coaches to participate in the Games after the International Olympic Committee approved the proposal on Saturday.
“The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula, and inviting the world to join in a celebration of hope,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.