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North Korea plans to stage military parade on eve of Winter Olympic Games

To mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military on February 8, North Korea plans to stage military event just a day ahead of Pyeongchang Games

AP/ PTI  |  Pyongyang 

Winter olympics,North Korea, South Korea,Winter Olympics ceremony,Kim Jong Un,Koreas,Rex Tillerson,Donald Trump,Pyongyang,Paralympics,Seoul,International Olympic Committee,Olympics
Photo of North and south Korean athletes and delegates at the opening ceremony of 4th East Asian Games in 2005: Reuters

is preparing to stage a major event to mark 8 just one day before the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang in

Officials refuse to confirm what exactly is planned for the event.

A major show of military power could create anger in South Korea, which is hoping the games will be a symbol of peace and stability. has agreed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's last-minute proposal to send a delegation to the games and will have its athletes march together with the North Korean team under a blue-and-white "unification flag."

residents have been assembling every day in temperatures hovering around minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) to practice for what is expected to be a mass rally by civilians in Kim Il Sung Square, while obtained by outside analysts suggests military units are training at an airfield on the outskirts of the city for a possible military parade.

Over the past few days, the area around the square itself has been sporadically closed to traffic.

The activity in is common before major parades or rallies, which take months to organize and can involve thousands of troops and tens of thousands of civilians assembled in the square with flags, plastic bouquets or colored cards that they raise in unison to create giant slogans visible from the square's raised viewing area.

For security reasons, North Korean officials don't normally release details in advance about such events. Major military parades are generally attended by and other top officials.

North Korea's state-run media hinted earlier this week that an event was in the works, saying the February anniversary, which had for decades been overshadowed by observed on April 25, would be marked with more significance and pomp this year.

Though the report did not explain why the change was being made, the news raised eyebrows because comes just a day ahead of the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Games.

It also comes as the North has been stepping up its verbal attacks on the for what it claims is an effort to ruin an easing of tensions between and ahead of

The US has agreed to postpone joint military exercises with the South until after and Paralympics are over, but is now demanding they be scrapped indefinitely.

The North's media has also accused of trying to provoke tensions by sending aircraft carriers, bombers and stealth fighter aircraft into the region.

North Korea's military parades are closely scrutinized for the unveiling of new missiles or other key weaponry. But with no official confirmation, it isn't clear if the North would soften the event out of consideration for or conversely build it up into an even bigger spectacle for domestic propaganda purposes and as a slap at

First Published: Thu, January 25 2018. 18:38 IST