North's gearing up for military parade
Satellite imagery of a parade training ground in Pyongyang indicates that preparations for a military parade in Pyongyang are ongoing, after a smaller parade took place on Friday.
The military parade is likely to take place on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the North’s armed forces.
Although a larger parade was expected on April 15 – the “Day of the Sun” that marks the birth of regime founder Kim Il Sung and the most important holiday in the North – that date came and went with only a light show in central Pyongyang.
Satellite images captured by Planet Labs and cited by Voice of America and U.S.-based North Korea analysis portal 38 North show preparations for military parade are ongoing at Mirim Parade Training Ground in eastern Pyongyang.
The site includes a replica of Kim Il Sung Square, and satellite observations of drills held on those grounds in the past have reliably hinted at a major military parade in the works.
The preparations at Mirim Parade Training Ground coincided with changes over the weekend at Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang, where a stage was dismantled and a new structure appeared in front of the viewing stand where Kim Jong-un and senior North Korean leaders observe parades.
Lingering troops and military equipment at Mirim and at the nearby Sunan International Airport showed that those involved in parades had not yet disbursed, suggesting another parade is forthcoming.
Satellite images taken on Sunday – two days after the small procession in Kim Il Sung Square – showed thousands of troops and vehicle formations continuing to march in formation.
22 fighter jets, 11 helicopters and support equipment remained lined up near one of the main runways at Sunan International Airport in satellite images taken on Monday, also suggesting they were kept there to participate in a flyover that typically takes place during a major parade.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]