North to honor late leader in big way

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North to honor late leader in big way

North Korea is choreographing a mass military parade to celebrate the birthday of the late leader Kim Jong-il on Feb. 16, a South Korean government source told the JoongAng Ilbo.

“We’ve recently detected that North Korean soldiers are preparing for a large-scale military parade by mobilizing a massive number of troops, including reserve forces at Mirim Airport near Pyongyang,” the source said. “We assume that they will stage a military march on the birthday of Kim Jong-il.”

“We were informed that North Korea brought its newest battle tank Pokpung, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft guns and missiles [to the exercise venue],” the source added. “If that weaponry appears at the upcoming march, it will become its largest parade ever.”

Although North Korea conducts goose-stepping soldiers’ marches to mark major national holidays such as the birthday of founder Kim Il Sung, the anniversary of the army and the Workers’ Party, this is the first time a military parade would be held on Kim Jong-il’s birthday.

Sources said that North Korea is developing a new ground-to-ground missile, KN-06, and other ballistic missiles. It may unveil new weapons at the parade to fulfill its oft-stated promise that 2012 will mark the year of “strong and prosperous nation.” At the parade to mark the 65th anniversary of the Workers’ Party in 2010, the North showed off its Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which has a reported range of 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers (1500 to 1864 miles).

Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University speculated that North Korea’s potential military parade could be aimed at trumpeting its young successor’s rise to the outside world.



By Jeong Yong-soo [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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