Pyongyang set for biggest-ever military parade

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Pyongyang set for biggest-ever military parade

North Korea has been preparing since July to hold what could be its largest-ever military celebration, said South Korean government sources yesterday.

There will be twice as many participants for the parade, which apparently is set for Oct. 10, than previous similar events. The unprecedented scale of roughly 10,000 soldiers preparing for the parade would mark it as Pyongyang’s biggest public event, according to the government sources who have been observing the situation,.

Troops have been assembling at the Mirim Air Base in Pyongyang, and armored vehicles, artillery rockets and missiles have been stationed there as well.

The government sources, who asked for anonymity, believe that North Korea will be displaying its missile power, with short-range and mid-range Scud missiles and a newly developed line of mid-range missiles.

North Korea’s short-range missiles have a firing range of 120 kilometers (74.6 miles), while Scud missiles can be fired as far as 1,200 kilometers and the new missiles are expected to have a maximum range of up to 3,000 kilometers.

This will not be the first for North Korea to put on a display of ballistic missiles; it put on a large missile show in 2007 for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

Although the exact date for the parade is yet unknown, the preparations for the military parade have been underway for what seems to be a celebration for the upcoming 65th founding anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party on Oct. 10, as well as other possible changes to Pyongyang’s inner political workings.

The Communist state, which has 1.2 million active duty soldiers, has often celebrated major political anniversaries and ground-breaking changes with large-scale military displays.

Taking into consideration the scale of the preparations, Kim Jong-il will likely be present at the event, arranged by the National Defense Commission, said one North Korean defector who asked not to be named.

“It seems to be a move to breathe unity and pride into the people and on the outside, display the Workers’ Party’s presence and military power ahead of the party’s convention and founding anniversary,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

By Christine Kim, Kim Min-seok []
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